Air Belgium has selected Brussels South Charleroi Airport (BSCA) as its base, financial newspaper L’Echo announced this morning. Lower airport taxes, the arrival of Cathay Pacific at Brussels Airport and easy accessibility of the airport all favoured the airport South of Brussels. The Board of Directors of Charleroi airport will take a decision this morning.
Both BSCA and Air Belgium refuse to comment. The BSCA Board of Directors are meeting today to examine the Air Belgium request. If all goes well, the airline is planning to launch flights in March. Walloon Minister of Airports Jean-Luc Crucke (MR) is also awaiting the decision of the BSCA Board before rejoicing. The decision to operate from Charleroi Airport can be explained by the fact that Charleroi Airport only charges 3€ per passenger while Brussels Airport charges 28€ per passenger.
As Air Belgium will be the only long-haul airline from Charleroi, the company will be treated more respectfully while in Brussels, it will be one of many. Another element in the decision to opt for Charleroi is that Cathay Pacific will start flights between Brussels and Hong Kong from March 2018, competing strongly with the new Belgian airline.
Philippe Lawson, journalist at L’Echo, added in his article that Air Belgium would lose the positive impact of the hub effect at Brussels Airport (especially on long-haul). But it could benefit from Charleroi-based connections with other airlines like Ryanair, TUI fly Belgium, etc…
The length of the runway at Charleroi Airport (2,550 meters) will also handicap the Air Belgium operations during the first years, but the officials of BSCA and the Walloon authorities (via Sowaer) reassured Air Belgium to extend the runway to 3,200 meters by 2021.
Extra: have a look in our dedicated forum topic about Air Belgium.