Yesterday, Air Belgium A340-300 registered OO-ABD took off from Brussels South Charleroi with destination Tarbes-Lourdes-Pyrénées airport in southern France. Air Belgium told Aviation24.be that, together with her sister OO-ABE, the aircraft would remain parked there in storage for the winter.
Air Belgium leases four A340-300s from Airbus Finance, but they are not used full-time under the present sanitary conditions. Therefore, one of them (OO-ABD) flew yesterday to Tarbes airport’s Tarbes Advanced Recycling & Maintenance Aircraft Company (TARMAC, also present at Teruel). TARMAC is specialised in long-term storage, maintenance and “recycling” of aircraft.
OO-ABE, currently parked at Brussels Airport since September, will soon also take off to Tarbes.
In response to an inquiry of Aviation24.be, a spokesperson for Air Belgium replies that “given the reduced demand and current operational restrictions due to COVID-19, we have logically decided to differ maintenance and checks and temporarily park and store two aircraft for the winter.”
The two remaining A340s are regularly flying for Surinam Airways, which due to ETOPS problems cannot yet use its recently acquired Boeing 777 on the route from Paramaribo to Amsterdam, and for Norwegian shipping companies transporting crews between Bergen (Norway) and Cape Town (South Africa), among others.
Due to the coronavirus crisis and the ensuing travel restrictions, Air Belgium has postponed the resumption of flights to the French West Indies to 15 December 2020 and the launch of the new route to Mauritius to 30 March 2021.