Air Belgium cancels maiden flight amid Russian delay

The start-up is to delay its first flight to Hong Kong, scheduled to take off on 30 April, because it has not yet received permission to fly through Russian airspace.

Low-cost long-haul carrier Air Belgium is to postpone its launch date until 3 June as it has failed to secure permission to fly over Russia.

The airline had hoped to operate its first flight - from Brussels South Charleroi to Hong Kong - on 30 April.

Chief executive Niky Terzakis said: “At this date and despite all efforts of our teams and the Belgian authorities, we are still expecting to receive the overflight permit from the Russian authorities, knowing that overflying through the Russian airspace is unavoidable.

“Air Belgium did secure all other required permits well in advance. However, the Russian permit has not yet been granted.

“In addition to the uncertainty created by the above, the complicated and delayed GDS (Global Distribution Systems) implementation, has also prevented Chinese tourists groups from being directed to our flights.”

Terzakis added that the airline was “doing everything” it could to obtain the overflight permit.

Air Belgium secured its air operator’s license (AOC) in March and will operate four Airbus A340s. The Hong Kong service will be four weekly.