Air Belgium Operating Flights On Behalf Of British Airways

Filed Under: British Airways, Other Airlines

Air Belgium is a startup airline based in Charleroi, which operates a fleet of four Airbus A340-300 aircraft. Their business model is to operate flights between Charleroi and China. As of now they operate a single route between Charleroi and Hong Kong 3x per week, though the airline has said that they’ll be adding flights to mainland China this fall.

At the moment the airline seems to be using two A340s (very inefficiently) to operate their Hong Kong route, leaving them with two more planes to lease out to other airlines.

The airline has been operating some flights on behalf of Air France. Specifically, Air Belgium operated Air France’s flights between Paris and Libreville, and has also been operating flights on their behalf between Paris and Lagos.

It looks like Air Belgium will now be operating flights on behalf of yet another airline. Air Belgium will be operating select British Airways services over the coming days. As of now, Air Belgium will be operating British Airways’ flights from London to Cairo on September 3-5, and British Airways’ flights from Cairo to London on September 4-6.

As of now that’s all I see updated in the schedule, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see their flights extended further, since it’s possible this is part of a larger lease agreement.

Air Belgium’s A340s have fully flat staggered seats in business class, which I’d say are better than British Airways’ 2-3-2 business class seats on the 787.

Meanwhile in economy I’m a fan of the 2-4-2 layout, which I prefer to the 3-3-3 layout on the 787.

Air Belgium crews are generally excellent, so I think the only real downside is that their entertainment selection isn’t that great.

My guess is that British Airways is leasing an Air Belgium plane due to a general shortage they have resulting from 787 engine issues. With a few of those planes potentially out of service, they’re having to move around their schedule somewhat.

As I’ve been saying all along, for the time being it sure seems to me like Air Belgium’s best method for not losing money is to lease out their planes. Presumably they can turn a modest profit by doing this, which is better than losses. Then again, they claim to be doing better on their Hong Kong route than I anticipated, so who knows…

(Tip of the hat to @jbbahamas)

  1. One Mile at a Time? Maybe it should be One Air Belgium Mile at a Time.

    OMAAT has so much coverage about Air Belgium. However, not a criticism as I find the airline hilarious! Keep us posted about this funny airline! (and also the the fate the that ex-Singapore Airlines leased Airbus A380).

  2. @Lucky, a tad off topic, but have you noticed hard it is for a Oneworld person to get to Cairo from the U.S.?

    The only real option is BA via LHR, but they only have 1 flight a day to CAI and most inbound flights from the U.S. have a very long layover until the Cairo flight departs (about 6 hours in many cases). And that flight doesn’t arrive Cairo until 11pm – midnight. Not an ideal time to arrive in a place where one might have some sensitivities around security.

    If you live near JFK or ORD, I suppose you also have RJ as an option, but that’s about it. Really surprised BA doesn’t have a second, earlier flight to Cairo; and/or that Iberia begin flying there. Especially since QR is no longer an option.

  3. @Scott, Turkish flies IST to CAI either 2 or 3 x daily. You should be able to do JFK -CAI with them.
    Not great options, but there’s also Alitalia and Air Morocco.

  4. I doubt there’s any significant demand for Iberia to fly to Cairo or for BA to do more than once daily.

    Leisure travel has been decimated and has it ever been a big business destination?

  5. Don’t British Airways’ 787s have different engines than the Rolls Royce ones that have the issues?

  6. Haha! Now that’s something I’d want… BA has been long despised by me and now I get to try a new airline…

  7. @derek: I agree. There should now be a tag for Air Belgium with which all related articles should be tagged, rather than Other Airlines. This can also be done for Xiamen Air and WestJet.

  8. If you don’t want to read about Air Belgium, don’t click on articles that say Air Belgium in the title over a picture of an Air Belgium plane. Personally, they sound absolutely mad and I like reading about them, keep ’em coming!

  9. How you can describe an old used A340 from some obscure god-knows-how-safe airline an ‘upgrade’ from a new 787 from BA is beyond me. Sorry.

  10. @CS – I believe Lucky and the other writers on this site would rather crawl naked over broken glass than say anything even remotely redeeming about BA. It’s just not in vogue on OMAAT.

    That being said, I wouldn’t mind giving AB a go while they are operating.

  11. I fail to see what the actual story is here – airlines lease aircraft all the time to tide them over a sticky patch. Must be slow season for worthy news.

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