Air Antwerp starts flying the fastest direct connection between Antwerp and the centre of London

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Wide interest in new start-up

© André Orban

A ceremony was held this afternoon at Antwerp Airport in the presence of Air Antwerp CEO Johan Maertens and CEO of Antwerp Airport Marcel Buelens to celebrate the official start of Air Antwerp flights. Aviation24.be not only attended the event but also was present in the first flight to London City that left earlier in the morning with 42 of the 50 seats filled..

From today, the new regional airline will fly 16 times a week between Antwerp and London City Airport. The flights are operated with a Fokker 50, a turboprop that can accommodate 50 passengers. The aircraft belongs to Amaopla (Sweden) and is used in dry-lease.

Air Antwerp and KLM signed a commercial partnership on this route in the form of a codeshare agreement. This has led to a great deal of interest from the Netherlands for the new business route. Tickets for the Antwerp-London City route can be purchased via https://www.airantwerp.com and https://www.klm.com.

Johan Maertens, CEO of Air Antwerp, presented the airline to the press as serving niche destinations, point-to-point, with 50-90 seat turboprop aircraft, and filling gaps by main carriers or high-speed trains. He refused to disclose further destinations, but mentioned the possibility to operate ACMI flights for other airlines. If there is a problem with the sole Fokker F-50 aircraft, agreements with other airlines could fill the voids.

Maertens expects a load factor of 60 percent, which could make the airline profitable in 5 months.

Johan Maertens, CEO Air Antwerp © André Orban

In the past few months, a small team has worked extremely hard to obtain the operating licence. Exactly one month ago, it was done: that important message ended up in my mailbox even a bit faster than we had expected,” said Johan Maertens.

Since then it has been very busy to have everything ready in time for commercial and operational matters. I therefore thank all employees, suppliers and partners who have worked so hard. Also a sincere word of thanks to our shareholders, CityJet and KLM, for the confidence they gave us to make this venture possible. And last but not least, I want to thank our customers for the many enthusiastic responses and encouragements that we have received via email and social media. The important route Antwerp – London City is back and generates great interest!

Marcel Buelens, CEO Antwerp Airport

Marcel Buelens, CEO of Antwerp Airport, added: “It took a while, but in the end, we have another extremely important business destination. This iconic route will delight many businesspeople. We do not yet know what the Brexit will mean exactly, but the fact is that trading and doing business with the United Kingdom will not diminish, quite the contrary. We expect that even more people will have to be travel to the British capital in order to steer things in the right direction and to make maximum use of the new opportunities that will occur. Antwerp Airport is completely ready and will fully capitalise on its advantages of an efficient regional airport and excellent on-time performance.”

Peter Downes, Aviation Director of London City Airport, said: “The new route from Air Antwerp, up to three times a day on weekdays, allows fast and easy travel between the largest city in Flanders and London city centre. London City Airport is once again fully playing its role as a bridge between major European cities and the British capital.

The Antwerp – London City route was a highly valued route for many years. It is therefore fantastic to see travellers returning aboard the trusted Fokker 50. Thanks in part to the codeshare agreement that Air Antwerp and KLM signed, we are already seeing more interest in terms of reservations, whether for a city trip or to do  business either in Antwerp or in London.”

The slots at London City were obtained free of charge, in less than 10 minutes. Air Antwerp does not use the GDS but relies on KLM.

© André Orban
© André Orban
© André Orban
The first passengers are boarding © André Orban

Three return flights a day are offered on weekdays on the Antwerp-London City route. There is a return flight on Sunday. There are no flights on Saturday.

The regional airline Air Antwerp was established in May this year. Shareholders of the Antwerp-based startup are the Irish CityJet (75 percent) and the Dutch KLM (25 percent).

Video of the departure with water cannon salute:

Timetable Antwerp – London City Airport (local time)

Route Departure Arrival Days 
Antwerp – London City Airport 07:10 07:15 12345–
Antwerp – London City Airport 14:15 14:25 12345–
Antwerp – London City Airport 17:35 17:40 12345-7
London City Airport – Antwerp 07:45 09:45 12345–
London City Airport – Antwerp 14:55 16:55 12345–
London City Airport – Antwerp 18:10 20:10 12345-7

 

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