On Friday, Brussels-based Air Belgium announced that it would not start flying to Guadeloupe and Martinique again until at least the 3rd of June. On its website, the niche airline released a statement carried by the Brussels Times saying that it had reconsidered its plan to resume operations to the West Indies for May 2nd. However, it is now pushing back its plans by a further month.
“After analysis and in view of the latest developments in Belgium and Europe and in the world in general, it appears to us that the conditions will unfortunately not be met for a resumption of our flights to the West Indies on 2 May 2020,” -Air Belgium
According to the statement, all passengers who had already made reservations for flights in May have now been contacted via email by the airline. For any passengers who have bought tickets through a travel agency or tour operator, Air Belgium is asking them to contact the travel companies directly.
Air Brussels says they will resume limited flights in May
“The worldwide Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis and the on-going travel restrictions imposed by many countries around the world oblige Brussels Airlines to review the restart of its operations,” -Brussels Airlines press release
Despite the struggle through the current financial crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, Brussels Airlines’ CEO Dieter Vranckx said he remains optimistic despite all the setbacks. “In the end, the goal is to grow profitably from 2023. But first, we have to survive the coming weeks,” he said.
Who is Air Belgium?
Headquartered at Mont-Saint-Guibert in the Walloon Brabant province of Belgium, Air Belgium is a hybrid long-haul low-cost airline that also offers wet-lease services using its fleet of four Airbus A340 aircraft. Flying out of the lesser-used Brussels South Charleroi Airport (CRL), Air Belgium operates flights to Martinique and Guadeloupe in the French-speaking Lesser Antilles.
Before the COVID-19 outbreak erupted in Wuhan, China, regular weekly flights to Fort-de-France and Pointe-à-Pitre appeared to be going well. While not realizing the severity that the coronavirus outbreak would have on the airline industry, Air Belgium announced in February that it would continue flying during the summer and increase flights for the 2020 winter season.
The increased flights for the winter season doubled the current one flight per week to two. These flights depart from Brussels Charleroi to Martinique on a Wednesday and Saturday and to Guadeloupe on a Tuesday and Friday.
Air Belgium may have to rethink its winter schedule
How all this will play out is still up in the air. However, one thing Air Belgium has going for it is that it beats Air France when it comes to the cost of a ticket. Prices start at 401€ for a return ticket in economy class, 739€ in premium class, and 1,739€ in business class. Air Belgium was also eager to point out that even its cheapest fare includes a full-meal-service, no extra fees for luggage and inflight entertainment.
If the world doesn’t get back to what was considered normal in the next month or so, Air Belgium may have to rethink the two flights a week for next winter and maybe cut back to just one.
Can Air Belgium bounce back from the coronavirus or will it end up being a casualty? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments.