Air Belgium finally received its overflight permit from the Russian authorities, Belgian newspaper La Libre Belgique reported online.
Flying over the Russian airspace is necessary for the airline’s flights from Brussels South Charleroi Airport to Hong Kong, starting next 3rd of June. Air Belgium thought of flying around the Russian territory but that would have added 1 hour and 30 minutes to the duration of the flight, an unacceptable burden.
The newest Belgian airline originally scheduled its first flight to Hong Kong on April 30th, but was forced to delay its inaugural flight. With the Russian approval, the final hurdle seems to be taken.
During the waiting period Air Belgium operated ACMI flights for several clients:
- Surinam Airways
- The Aviation Factory
- TUI fly Belgium and TUI fly Netherlands
- Royal Air Maroc
- Air France
It is expected that, very soon, Air Belgium will launch additional flights to China, starting with Wuhan, and other Asian destinations. Two more A340 aircraft are expected to join the current fleet of two A340s.
On 18 May 2018, Air Belgium issued a press release confirming the news:
Air Belgium confirms its first flight to Hong Kong on 3 June
Air Belgium confirms that the first flight to Hong Kong will take place on June 3, 2018. The airline also announces the acquisition of the Russian overflight permit, allowing it to fly through Russian airspace, and that it has taken care of the last arrangements in order to welcome Chinese passengers in the best possible way.
Given the impact of the delayed launch, Air Belgium has been forced to adapt the frequency of its flights to Hong Kong during the launch phase. The company will offer two flights per week in June, followed by three per week from July onward and, finally, four per week from October onward.
Air Belgium will contact all passengers that are impacted by this change, and will offer them a tailored solution.
Niky Terzakis, CEO of Air Belgium: “Now that we have all the green lights, we can’t wait to welcome our first passengers between Brussels Charleroi Airport and Hong Kong. Meanwhile, we’re working hard to have the third plane ready by the end of June and are preparing the first flights to Mainland China, which are expected to launch in the coming months.”