Brussels (People's Daily) - Air Belgium, the new Belgian airline, plans to begin long-haul direct flights from the Brussels Charleroi Airport to Hong Kong, amid a better connection between Europe and Asia.
Air Belgium announced on Wednesday that the destination of its first flights will be Hong Kong by the end of March. The first planes, Airbus A340-400s, are due to be delivered in mid-February, allowing the airline time to acquire its operating license.
With a starting capital of 20 million euros from European majority and Asian minority shareholders, the new airline are expected to fly 500,000 passengers a year with four planes.
"But why China? This is because there is little if any room for a new player on the market for European short-haul flights, and the same is true on trans-Atlantic routes, and competition on routes to and from the Middle East is getting stiffer all the time,” Belgian media reported.
The Far East is just about the only region where there is still great growth potential. The growing middle class in China has fueled a growth in air travel within, to and from the world’s most populous country.
Air Belgium CEO Niky Terzakis said the share of international passengers is 60 percent at Charleroi. "We are convinced that our passengers will benefit from great service, especially because Brussels South is starting to adjust its current infrastructure," he added.
Belgium’s largest airline is flag carrier Brussels Airlines – a subsidiary of Lufthansa created through a merger between SN Brussels Airlines and Virgin Express – based in the main commercial hub of Brussels Airport.