Air Belgium’s New Caribbean Flights On Sale

Filed Under: Other Airlines

Air Belgium is one of my favorite airlines to follow, and last week they announced a new business plan — the airline went from being focused on flights to Asia, to not operating any scheduled flights at all, to now operating flights to the Caribbean and beyond.

What is Air Belgium?

For those of you not familiar with Air Belgium, they’re a Charleroi-based airline that started flying to Hong Kong in June 2018. The airline has four Airbus A340-300s that used to fly for Finnair, and their initial plan was to operate those planes exclusively from Charleroi to destinations in Asia, with a particular focus on China.

Air Belgium A340

Long story short, the route lasted for a few weeks (and I was lucky enough to review it while it was around), because the business model was kinda whack. First they delayed the Hong Kong route, then they operated it temporarily, then they suspended it, then they announced it was returning, and then they canceled it again.

They promised that they’d move forward with other routes to China, which also obviously wasn’t going to happen.

So in the meantime Air Belgium has been acting as a wet lease charter company. With many airlines needing extra planes due to the 787 being grounded, Air Belgium is operating flights on behalf of other airlines, which to me seems like the only way they won’t lose money.

Air Belgium business class

Air Belgium’s new business plan

Last week we learned that Air Belgium has a new business plan and also new funding. Apparently the airline has blown through a lot of money, and the plan is now to operate to the following destinations:

  • Fort-de-France, Martinique
  • Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe
  • Kinshasa, Congo
  • Miami, Florida

Alrighty then…

Air Belgium Caribbean flights now on sale

This week Air Belgium has put their new Caribbean flights on sale. The airline will be launching flights to the French Antilles as of December 7, 2019. Air Belgium 5961 will operate as follows, on Wednesdays and Saturdays:

Brussels to Fort de France departing 10:45AM arriving 3:45PM
Fort de France to Pointe A Pitre departing 5:15PM arriving 6:00PM
Pointe a Pitre to Brussels departing 8:00PM arriving 9:20AM (+1 day)

As of now this flight is only on sale through April 29, 2020, which makes sense, since I imagine this route will be seasonal.

So, what are their fares like? Roundtrip economy fares from Charleroi start at $379…

Roundtrip premium economy fares start at $822…

Roundtrip business class fares start at $1,955…

Bottom line

Air Belgium has blown through a lot of money, and has now made significant changes to their route network. I’m happy to see Air Belgium flights back on sale, if for no other reason than looking forward to continuing to follow this saga…

I’ll be curious to see if they move forward with their plans for Miami and Kinshasa, and if they plan on continuing to lease out their planes even when all of this starts.

Air Belgium has four A340s at this point, though they only need one frame a couple of days per week to operate these French Antilles flights…

What do you make of Air Belgium’s new service to the French Antilles?

Comments
  1. Interesting. I don’t think there are that many routes between European countries and Caribbean islands that weren’t former colonies.

  2. The market in Belgium can definitely sustain this……. provided they have the right partnerships, such as Club Med, for example. If they plan to do it on their own without relying on package travelers, they might face their 2nd HKG, I guess.

  3. With all due respect Lucky, your post starts with an insulting question to your readers: “What is Air Belgium?” How dare you ask that question? Are you implying that your readers have not read the 153 articles about Air Belgium? Tsk tsk tsk…

  4. Perhaps a dumb question, but I don’t believe the 787 is grounded, is it? I’ve seen this claimed multiple times lately. My guess is it is just a mistake as 737-8 is easily written as 787 when thinking quickly.

  5. @Alex – though the entire 787 fleet isn’t grounded like the 737M, due to ongoing engine issues, many 787s can’t fly until required maintenance is done and there is a severe backlog on that

  6. The problem is the FDF and PTP are low yield routes on not very popular islands. There is a reason you don’t hear about many Americans going there. They have culture and good food but aren’t what most people are looking for in a Caribbean Vacation.

    At least charleoi makes sense from a language perspective. It’s in wallonia (part of francophone Belgium) and flying to french speaking islands.

  7. @Dan – I think Martinique and Guadeloupe are very popular islands, just not from an American perspective. 3-4 wide bodies a day fly to FDF and PTP from ORY and CDG. And the fact that many Americans don’t go there is a wonderful thing. I love that not a single Hilton or Hyatt or Marriott can be found on Guadeloupe. If you speak a little French and have any interest in island culture, these are fantastic spots. I’m glad that JetBlue is picking up the flight to PTP that Norwegian axed.

  8. Guadeloupe and Martinique are gorgeous islands with very different personalities. This can be traced back to the French Revolution. The guillotine arrived on Guadeloupe – in the middle of night – and by dawn the wealthy plantation owners, the doctors, the lawyers, and the island’s intelligentsia had been dragged from their beds and beheaded. Martinique got wind of what was happening and asked Britain to raise their flag and claim the island for themselves. Unable to land the guillotine at ‘British’ Fort-de-France, the French troops returned ‘the national razor’ to the mainland and Britain then hauled down the Union Jack. Economic and cultural viability was retained on Martinique while devastated Guadeloupe stagnated.

    I love Martinique, which I’ve been traveling to since the 1970’s, but find Guadeloupe (which has a very high crime rate) to be rather depressing.

  9. It’s a shame they are not going to SXM. While AF and KLM service SXM, it there is lots of travel to SBH. And it would be very cool to see those planes from the Sunset Beach bar!

  10. @Dan – thank you for letting me know that not many Americans go to Guadeloupe or Martinique. These islands already appealed to me to visit for the reasons that you mentioned, and now with that revelation, they are a must-visit!

  11. The prices (especially in Economy) are pretty good, so they may be able to get a good amount of leisure travelers. A European feed network or a partner in the Caribbean would help though.

    Unrelated, but I’ve been commenting under just ‘alex’ for months now, and in the last week or so I’ve seen quite a few comments under the exact same name, and they’re usually either a political (and occasionally racist) rant or some silly question…odd. Not sure what I can do differentiate myself from other commenting under the same name?

  12. Did Air Belgium get round to installing their new premium economy seats or do you still get a seat in the rear of the business cabin if you book PE?

  13. The Y fares are exceptional… as for J they are pretty much the same as AF’s, but given the fact that on most of their Caribbean routes they don’t even feature flat beds that makes Air Belgium much more attractive

  14. @ Real Alpha Male

    A typical, lazy, stereotypical comment from somebody who has obviously not spent much time in the country (if any), with its amazing food, beer and architecture.

    But if it keeps Real Boring Males like you away, then all the better for the rest of us.

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