Sun Express to Wet Lease Air Belgium Airbus A340 For Antalya Operations

While there are many wet lease aircraft and carriers around the world, there are a few which really interest Simple Flying. These include the HiFly A380 and the Air Belgium A340. Now, it has been announced that the Air Belgium Airbus A340 will be headed to Turkey, as it temporarily joins the Sun Express fleet.

Air Belgium A340
Air Belgium will be operating flights for Sun Express over the next week or so. Photo: Air Belgium

The airline will be wet leasing the A340 from tomorrow to serve a number of European routes for a short period of time. Airlines commonly wet lease aircraft to temporarily increase their capacity, or replace AOG aircraft. Both are potentially an option for Sun Express, though it seems the former is more likely.

Why do we love Air Belgium’s A340?

The Simple Flying team loves Air Belgium’s Airbus A340. But why? Quite simply because of Air Belgium’s most bizarre of business models. The carrier was operating its Airbus A340s on one single route between Brussels Charleroi and Hong Kong.

The route was not performing well for the carrier who realised they were having much more success wet leasing their fleet out. Indeed, in the midst of the Rolls Royce Trent 1000 crisis, British Airways is a frequent customer of Air Belgium.

The Sun Express service

Sun Express is a joint venture between Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines. The airline will be using Air Belgium’s wet lease Airbus A340 for some very specific services. According to Routes Online, these are as follows:

  • 31st May – Stuttgart to Antalya (one way);
  • 1st June – Antalya – Basel/Mulhouse;
  • 1st June – Antalya – Zurich;
  • 2nd June – Antalya – Dusseldorf;
  • 7th June – Munich – Antalya (one way);
  • 7th June – Antalya – Hannover (one way);
  • 8th June – Hannover – Antalya (one way);
  • 8th June – Dusseldorf – Antalya (one way).
Air Belgium Airbus A340
The routes which Air Belgium’s A340 will operate on. Source: GCMaps

Given the specificness of the flights being flown by the Airbus A340, one would be led to assume that the aircraft is being used for its capacity. Sun Express’ Boeing 737s have 189 seats, meanwhile Air Belgium’s Airbus A340s range from 257 to 303 seats, a considerable capacity increase.

Why wet lease?

Wet leases are an integral part of keeping airlines operations running smoothly. When demand increases, airlines such as Lufthansa are able to substitute widebody aircraft. However, smaller airlines are faced with two choices. They could purchase a widebody and underutilize it regularly, or they could hire a widebody on demand and get the best value for money.

Sun Express Boeing 737
Sun Express only operates the Boeing 737. Photo: Aero Icarus via Flickr

The other big application for wet-leased aircraft is to replace aircraft that are out of service. Take the British Airways Boeing 787s for example. They are currently undergoing work on their Trent 1000 engines. As such they don’t have the capacity in their fleet to meet their schedule without cancelling flights. By wet leasing, they are able to operate as close to a full complement of flights as possible.

Will you be on a wet-leased Airbus A340 from Air Belgium? Let us know in the comments!