Air Belgium has taken delivery of the second A330F from Qatar Airways Cargo. The five-year-old aircraft, now registered OO-AIR, arrived in Brussels yesterday morning. It’s now headed off to Dublin for a repaint, alongside its sister aircraft OO-CMA. Air Belgium is expected to take another two ex-Qatar A330F in the coming weeks.
Another A330 arrives with Air Belgium
Air Belgium is doubling down on its commitment to cargo with the arrival of a second A330-200F. Qatar Airways’ old A330 registered A7-AFJ has been given a new registration for the Belgian airline, and arrived in Brussels yesterday morning.
The new registration is kind of cute – OO-AIR. OO is a standard designator for aircraft registered in Belgium, and the addition of AIR is a lovely touch. Whether it was by design or chance is not known.
— Picalausa S. (@Spicalausa) February 18, 2021
While the A330 has had a change of owner and registration, it’s yet to have a full livery change. While the Qatar Airways branding has been removed, the color scheme remains, with the trademark Qatar grey body and white belly visible.
However, following its ferry flight from Doha to Brussels, OO-AIR didn’t hang about. Later that morning, it hit the skies on its way to Dublin, arriving at just after midday GMT.
Ex @qatarairways Cargo now @Airbelgium OO-AIR (A332) arriving into @DublinAirport from @BrusselsAirport this morning for the @IAC_Ltd paint shop.@AirBelgiumFans @avgeekofficial #avgeek #aviation #aero #cargo @FlyingIreland @AviationNewsIRL @PlaneSpotIsCool #Airport #plane #fly pic.twitter.com/WjvdEKPbHR
— Mel Byrne (@MelByrneRadio) February 18, 2021
Dublin is home to a widebody paint hangar for IAC Aircraft Painting, a company that undertakes repaints for numerous European and worldwide airlines. IAC painted the iconic British Airways 747 retrojets, and numerous other eye-catching aircraft including this ‘Frozen’ themed plane for WestJet.
As such, the next time OO-AIR takes to the skies, it is likely to be sporting a full Air Belgium livery. At only five years old, it has a lot of life left in it yet, and will likely be hard at work for the Belgian airline for many years to come.
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Four ex-Qatar A330s for Air Belgium
As A7-AFJ, the A330F arrived with Qatar Airways Cargo in February 2016. It was regularly used by the airline for the five years it was with the Doha operator, undertaking around 7,000 hours of flights per year. It remained in regular use, flying from the Middle East to destinations in Europe, Africa and as far east as Japan, up until January this year. On January 21st, it was withdrawn from use.
Air Belgium has not bought the plane. Rather, it is leasing it from a French company called CMA CGM Air Cargo. It seems that the lessor was keen to put AFJ through its paces prior to purchase, as its final flight under its Qatari registration saw it undertaking two hours of interesting maneuvers in the skies above Doha.
We saw similar activity with A7-AFI towards the end of January, as it, too, was shown off for its new buyer.
AFI has now been re-registered OO-CMA and made the same trip from Brussels to Dublin on February 15th. It, too, will likely get a full coat of brand new paint before returning to its new operator in Belgium.
Nice bit of light at @DublinAirport for the arrival of Air Belgium A332 OO-CMA which was formally Qatar Cargo A7-AFI #avgeek #aviation #plane #flight @Airbelgium @qatarairways #cargo #paint #Dublin #aero #aircraft pic.twitter.com/ymSMOXX6K0
— Mel Byrne (@MelByrneRadio) February 15, 2021
Air Belgium is pegged to be getting two more A330F from Qatar Cargo in the coming weeks. Qatar retired all of its A330F aircraft last month, in lieu of the delivery of three new Boeing 777F at the start of the year. All but two have now found homes, with three heading to Sichuan Airlines, two to Air Belgium and one to Hungary’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, to be operated by Wizz Air.
That leaves just A7-AFG and A7-AFH to find a home. Both took similar proving flights above Doha in recent weeks, so we can expect them both to arrive in Brussels in the coming days. No doubt they’ll be off to Dublin for a makeover too, which will take Air Belgium to a fleet of four A330-200F for its future cargo needs.