Air Belgium has retired one of its four Airbus A340-300 aircraft as the pandemic drags on. The all-Airbus A340 airline has been operating wet lease charters with its fleet alongside scheduled flights to Martinique and Guadeloupe.
Air Belgium has always been a fascinating airline. It initially launched with plans to serve Hong Kong from October 2017. These flights didn’t reach fruition until June 2018. However, just three months after launch, the route was suspended with questions over the airline’s future. It was then repositioned as a wet lease airline, lending a hand to British Airways while its 787s were grounded. Then, just over a year ago, the airline looked to launch flights to the Caribbean.
As first spotted by Aviation24.be, one of the airline’s four A340-300 aircraft has been removed from the Belgian aircraft registry. The aircraft was the only one of the four not to wear the Air Belgium livery. Instead, it wore plain white.
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OO-ABE is 12 years old. According to data from FlightRadar24.com, it has been leased by Air France, LOT Polish Airlines, and British Airways for significant portions of its time at the airline. Other airlines have also made use of the aircraft.
The aircraft was most recently leased by Suriname Airways, which saw it fly from Paramaribo to Amsterdam on September 2nd. Following the flight, it repositioned to its Brussels home on September 3rd. Its last flight was from Brussels to Amman on November 5th. Previously, Finnair owned the aircraft before being transferred to Airbus Financial Services in September 2017, whom Air Belgium was leasing the aircraft from, according to Planespotters.net.
In a statement to Aviation24.be, an airline spokesperson said,
“Air Belgium has decided to de-register and no longer integrate this aircraft in its active fleet. The fleet will evolve at the end of the winter season and depending on the recovery planned for summer 2021.”
What about the remainder of the fleet?
In October, Simple Flying reported that Air Belgium would be sending half of its four aircraft fleet to storage. Simple Flying previously said that OO-ABD and OO-ABE would be stored. ABD last flew on October 19th to Tarbes.
Meanwhile, ABA last flew on December 24th from London to Brussels. ABB is currently en route to Pointe-a-Pitre in Guadeloupe, showing that the airline’s Caribbean connections are still operating.
Choosing only Airbus A340 aircraft was an interesting choice by Air Belgium. Indeed, most airlines were looking to retire the type even before the current pandemic. It’s simply not economical to operate four-engined giants these days when twinjets can also manage the job using less fuel and emitting fewer greenhouse gasses.
Do you think Air Belgium made the right decision to scrap one of its Airbus A340-300 aircraft? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!