In the past few years I’ve written extensively about Air Belgium. Up until now the airline has exclusively operated passenger service with used Airbus A340-300s, but it looks like the carrier’s fleet will soon be expanding with more modern aircraft.
Air Belgium’s new A330-900neos
While I haven’t been able to find a formal announcement anywhere, it looks like Air Belgium will take delivery of at least one Airbus A330-900neo later this year. The aircraft with the MSN 1844 has the Air Belgium logo on its engines.
This plane was manufactured back in January 2018, and has had quite a history already, even though it hasn’t operated a single passenger flight:
- Initially the plane was supposed to fly for airberlin (which has since liquidated)
- Then it was supposed to fly for RwandAir, and the plane was even painted in RwandAir’s livery; the airline ultimately decided not to take delivery of the plane
- Now the plane has the Air Belgium logo on the engines, and it will apparently be painted in the full Air Belgium livery in the coming months
Rumor has it that Air Belgium will take delivery of at least two A330-900neos. While not confirmed, I think that would most likely be the plane with the MSN 1861, since that’s the other A330-900neo that was supposed to go to RwandAir.
For those of you not familiar with the A330-900neo, this is the latest generation aircraft in the A330 family. The plane features improved economics over older versions of the A330, and it’s a great lower capacity alternative to the A350, which is otherwise Airbus’ flagship long haul aircraft nowadays.
What will Air Belgium do with the A330-900neo?
For those not familiar with Air Belgium, it’s an airline that commenced operations in 2018, with Airbus A340-300s that previously operated for Finnair. Here’s how Air Belgium’s business model has progressed:
- Air Belgium launched flights between Charleroi and Hong Kong in June 2018 (read my review of this fascinating service), and the goal was for the airline to fly primarily between Charleroi and points in Asia; this route was cut within weeks
- Then Air Belgium started operating as a wet lease carrier, essentially flying on behalf of other airlines that had aircraft shortages
- Then Air Belgium started operating triangle routes to the Caribbean
- Then Air Belgium acquired four freighter Airbus A330-200s (which used to fly for Qatar Airways Cargo), and has used these planes for cargo-only service
- Air Belgium soon plans to operate flights to Mauritius out of Brussels Airport (rather than Charleroi Airport)
Air Belgium currently has three A340-300s in its passenger fleet, so only time will tell how this plays out. Will Air Belgium use A330-900neos to simply make its passenger operations more efficient, and use these planes to replace A340-300s? Or will the A330-900neos replace the A340-300s?
I still don’t actually understand Air Belgium’s business model (and I’m not sure the airline does either, for that matter), but I sure am curious to see how this plays out.
While there hasn’t been an official announcement, it appears that Air Belgium is intending to take delivery of some A330-900neos later this year. In the three years since Air Belgium launched operations, it sure has gone through a few business models.
I’m curious to see how these A330-900neos fit into Air Belgium’s strategy, and what the interiors of these planes will be like.
What do you make of Air Belgium acquiring Airbus A330-900neos?
(Tip of the hat to Giuseppe)