Air Belgium cancels Hong Kong relaunch but vows to serve China

Air Belgium has cancelled plans to resume its Hong Kong service, but the start-up has vowed to begin routes two destinations in mainland China this summer and hopes to begin flights to the Americas by next winter.

Air Belgium has reversed a decision to resume flights between Brussels Charleroi and Hong Kong citing “current market conditions”.

The airline had intended to operate the route three times per week from 31 March 2019 using Airbus A340-300 aircraft.

“The economical and operational conditions are not met to viably resume the service,” said Niky Terzakis, chief executive of Air Belgium.

“It is a painful decision to make but a reasonable one when it comes to preserving our development capabilities and assure continued full employment.”

The airline, which operates a fleet of four Airbus A340-300s, began flights to Hong Kong in June 2018, but suspended service in October.

However, it said it continues to fly on behalf of legacy airlines “with success” and has taken on more than 70 staff over the past five months. By the end of this month, it will have carried more than 200,000 passengers.

A statement from Air Belgium also said it expects to serve two destinations in mainland China from Brussels-Charleroi this summer and is finalising plans to start service to the Americas by next winter.

According to data provided by Sabre Market Intelligence, O&D traffic between Belgium and Hong Kong increased by 50 percent in 2018, compared with the previous 12 months, to 60,691 passengers.

A total of 42 percent of passengers flew non-stop, while 7.4 percent travelled via London Heathrow, 6.2 percent via Dubai and 6.1 percent via Zurich.

Cathay Pacific launched a non-stop service between Brussels Airport and Hong Kong on 25 March 2018, operating four times per week on Airbus A350 aircraft.

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