Shocker: Air Belgium Cancels Resumption Of Hong Kong Flights

Filed Under: Other Airlines

Update: Air Belgium’s new business plan is to operate flights to the Caribbean.

Air Belgium was scheduled to resume 3x weekly flights between Brussels Charleroi and Hong Kong as of March 31, 2019. Air Belgium has today announced that they won’t in fact resume service to Hong Kong. The carrier says that this was a “painful decision, but reasonable given the current market conditions.”

Air Belgium A340

I assume the “market conditions” they’re referring to are life on planet earth, because we’d need to be living in an alternate reality for this route to make sense.

This announcement comes just a couple of weeks before the service was set to resume. Air Belgium says they are reaching out to customers and will issue full refunds.

Niky Terzakis, CEO of Air Belgium, said the following:

“The economical and operational conditions are not met to viably resume the service. It is a painful decision to make, but a reasonable one when it comes to preserving our development capabilities and assuring continued full employment.”

Air Belgium business class

At the moment Air Belgium’s fleet of four A340-300s is operating on behalf of other airlines, including Air France and British Airways. The carrier says that their employment level is continuously increasing, and the company now has 248 full time employees, compared to 176 last October. By the end of March 2019, the airline will have carried over 200,000 passengers.

Air Belgium economy class

Air Belgium still claims they intend to operate their own flights, rather than just flights on behalf of other airlines. According to Air Belgium:

  • They’ll serve two destinations in mainland China from Brussels Charleroi this summer
  • They’re “finalizing plans aiming to starting service to the Americas by next winter”

I’d say the chances of either of those things happening are very, very slim. Just as I said the chance of Air Belgium actually resuming service to Hong Kong were very, very slim. Man, if this whole blogging thing doesn’t work out, I have a good career ahead of me as a psychic.

By the way, for those of you not familiar with the full history of Air Belgium, here’s a brief timeline to get you up to date:

I mean… alrighty then…

Bottom line

Air Belgium is a complete basket case of an airline, and I can’t wrap my head around what they’re thinking. As I’ve said quite literally from day one, the airline could do alright just operating charter flights on behalf of other airlines, as they’re currently doing.

I just don’t understand why they have aspirations beyond that. Operating a single route to Hong Kong, or even operating flights to mainland China or the Americas simply doesn’t make sense for an airline like this, no matter how you cut it.

Well, at least I can rest well at night knowing I’m one of the few people who had the privilege of experiencing Air Belgium’s commercial operations. Being on a flight this long with just two dozen other passengers was surreal.

  1. Maybe they can add some flights to anchorage and then cycle between Charloi-Anchorage-Shanghai. Don’t let eastern Airlines get the whole Alaska-China market share!

  2. This is a “My d*** is bigger than yours” situation where Wallonia needs to show Flanders that they too have an aiport that can function beyond Ryanair, and operate longhaul international flights.

    Yes, for those willing to understand Belgium (spoiler alert: don’t), Brussels Airport is actually in Flanders, which makes a HUGE difference for some people.

    And I am speaking as a tired Belgian citizen…

  3. Air Belgium will possibly find one way or another to increase their online revenue potential by possibly starting affiliate programs for travel bloggers.

  4. All the more reason that bloggers should not rush to review an inaugural flight, which are very different from subsequent flights. Very similar to the NYT philosophy of not reviewing restaurants until they have been up and running for a few months. I understand many bloggers’ desire to be first, experience snacks at the gate, take a photo with a CEO and be welcomed by water cannons, but those are atypical bells-and-whistles. Wiser would be the blogger who reviewed a flight a month or two after launch, but that would risk clicks, the bread-and-butter that supports blogs.

  5. @ Steve — What are you talking about? I didn’t fly the inaugural. And if I had waited months there would have been no review. So would no review of Air Belgium ever be better than a review of them while they were still in existence?

    I’m trying to follow what you’re saying, but…

  6. Ben, if I recall correctly, you attempted to book a flight on Air Belgium a week or so after it launched (, but that was canceled or rescheduled (as best I recall). So, instead of letting the route become established, you sought to lead the pack for reviews. In another post, you wrote that it’s worth a moderate amount of effort to take an inaugural flight (, reminding us that you took the inaugural from Abu Dhabi to LA. You also took an inaugural flight from Doha to Frankfurt ( Those are just a few examples.

    So my point is “why the rush,” other than to generate traffic (and I understand that traffic keeps the lights on). But there isn’t anyone that reads a review of an inaugural flight that is going to be able to replicate that experience. Hence, my suggestion to wait a few months. Just like Pete Wells and his restaurant review for the Times.

  7. Ben (Lucky), I don’t believe Steve was accusing you of doing this specifically; his was more a general statement.

  8. Typical of Belgium as a whole. Anyone who has ever driven a car on Belgian roads or experienced the subpar service offered in almost any industry will understand what I mean. Heck there was a ranking of the most boring capitals in Europe a couple of years ago. Guess which one won the first prize: yes Brussels

  9. @ Steve @ Ben: I am in the “better an early review than no review” camp. I found the review very interesting and entertaining, even though I will probably never fly this airline.

  10. @Claus, other than for entertainment value, what is the usefulness of a review of a route that lasted a few months. For a new carrier, like Air Belgium, seems better to wait to make sure the route sticks, and for legacy carriers seems better to wait so the review is of a flight that more closely mirrors what passengers will experience (that is, without water cannons, as fun as they may be).

  11. Given the grounding of B737 MAX, I think at this moment these airlines that wet-leasing their planes probably have a lot of demand elsewhere (Maybe Norweigan!) who wants to replace their grounded MAX…

  12. Ben I believe there is a typo in this statement:
    “This announcement comes just a couple of weeks before the service was set to resume. Air Belgium says they are reaching out to customers and will issue full refunds.”
    I believe you meant customer.
    Please put me down for reviews at anytime you like. I will never match your travel schedule and enjoy living thru your’s vicariously.
    The only issue I have ever had with you is that you chose not to live in FLL. But I have learned to accept your opinion on the matter.

  13. @Steve It’s why so many of us visit this website because Lucky is so quick to deliver very comprehensive reviews of new products. You don’t see reviews of cars/mobile phones etc 6 months after they’ve been in production because the “buzz” is lost that doesn’t “sell” the magazine/website. At the end of the day OMAAT is a business and if Lucky waits six months to review a new product someone else will be on the inaugural flight and people will go there to read about it. People want to be the first to read about or hear about new and exciting products.

    Keep up the good work Lucky though please go just a little easier on BA

  14. Air Belgium have today announced they are operating BA’s Heathrow-Toronto route whilst BA have fleet issues due to the 787

  15. @ExpressChords

    Cars and mobile phones are the same for the first purchaser as the thousandth. But by reviewing an inaugural flight, the review doesn’t match the experience on non-inaugural flights. I think what the poster above is saying is that comparing an inaugural flight to ensuing flights is like comparing apples and oranges.

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