Text: Bart Lakeu - Pictures: Serge Van Heertum & Bart Lekeu - Others: As mentioned
Translation: Marc Arys     © sbap 2018
 

In August 2016, the creation of a new Belgian airline was presented by several Belgian contractors, including Niky Terzakis, former managing director of TNT Airways. More of 49% is taken by the Hong-Kong backers.
By taking the name "Air Belgium", the company wishes to operate flights to Asia, particularly to China and India. Officially founded on May 27th, 2017, "Air Belgium" has its office in Mont-Saint-Guibert with an investment capital of 5 million of euros; financed a.o. by two factories located in Hong-Kong - Pioneer Topworld Ltd. and Sky Master Holdings Limited.
"Air Belgium" was presented by Niky Terzakis as a "low-cost" airline. For its operating base, he had to make a choice between Brussels Airport, Brussels-South and Liège-Bierset, but Brussels-South succeeded to convince the management.
During a press conference in February 2017, Niky Terzakis stated that the choice of the airport was decided regarding the numerous possible connectivity's, despite the fact that the runway of Brussels-South is still not capable of handling wide-body aircraft at 100% of the aircraft capacity. This will at first limit the number of carried passengers, until the lengthening works of the runway scheduled at the end of 2018. But is also a fact that the airport of Liège-Bierset does not have the same capacity to attract customers as Brussels-South.
At first Air Belgium will have four Airbus A340-313 on hand and will try the most to satisfy its customers, be it tourists or business travelers. In January 2017, the company launched a competition for the design of its uniforms and style. Open to all the designers living in Belgium and aged between 18 and 30. Esther Fourez, a stylist from Kain, won the competition in March with the unanimity of the votes of the jury.
On March 13th, 2018 "Air Belgium" received its airline certificate, delivered by the "Direction générale du transport aérien (DGTA) du Service Public Fédéral Mobilité" (General Aviation Directorate - Ministry of Mobility), following the arrival of the first two aircraft (Airbus A340-313 - OO-ABA and OO-ABB) - former Finland Finnair Airlines (OH-LQB and OH-LQC).
The first aircraft of this new company was painted within the facilities of Sabena Aerospace and the second will follow soon.
If everything goes as planned, "Air Belgium" will operate its first flight between Charleroi and Hong-Kong on April 16th, but the main goal is to attend other destinations in China (to be confirmed yet: Peking, Shangai and Xian) with a total of four Airbus A340-313.
In her future development plans, Air Belgium emphasize that she will not possess as such, a fleet of mid-range aircraft to complete her long-haul fleet. "Maybe some aircraft in wet lease - (rental with crew)" the management stated, and will favor the agreements with other airlines. One could easily imagine and agreement with Ryanair, also operating from Brussels-South airport.
To 2020, a reinforcement of the flights and fleet will be realized, as the management already announced pending negotiations with Airbus to acquire eventually A330-900NEO or a A350XWB aircraft.
It is not impossible that "Air Belgium" will turn towards the American continent, being at least the goal, if the evolution and the hoped growth is on the rendez-vous.

 
 The OO-ABA il full livery on Brussels Airport apron
(Bart Lekeu ©)
The OO-ABB in white colour
(Denis Eusicom ©)
 The OH-LQB in Finnair service...
(Coll Denis Eusicom / DR)
...same for the OH-LQC
(Coll Denis Eusicom / DR)
 A colorful scheme in Black, Yellow and Red
(Courtesy new Air Belgium)
Niky Terzakis in good company
(Courtesy new Air Belgium)
 A smart interior design
(Courtesy new Air Belgium)
Artist view of the future operations
(Courtesy new Air Belgium)
 Seating configuration  (Courtesy new Air Belgium)
 The OO-ABA in the paintshop
(DR)
Air Belgium will be back in the air...
(DR)
March 25th: OO-ABA and OO-ABB are ready...waiting the launch  (Serge Van Heertum ©)
 Another artist view of the brand new Airlines
(Courtesy new Air Belgium)
A picture assembly of Brussels-South tarmac like it will be in a few weeks
(Courtesy new Air Belgium)
 

"Air Belgium": not a new name in the Belgian aviation landscape...
In May 1979, tour operator Sun International, Abelag Airways and Herfurth Logistics regrouped to form an enterprise. The company started aerial operations with rented aircraft, including a Boeing 707-351C (OO-ABA) and a Boeing 737-2P6 (OO-ABB), flying from Brussels to destinations all around the Mediterranean Sea.
The following year, in 1980, after one of the commercial partners withdraw, the company was renamed "Air Belgium". The original livery of the aircraft of Air Belgium was made up of a logo with the stylized lettering A & B. The dominating colours being the yellow and the red.
In 1998 "Air Belgium" was sold to Airtours and at the end of October 2000, Air Belgium halted all of her aerial operations.

Here is a little pictures step back of this company which was already called... "Air Belgium".

 
 From 1979 to 2000... little bit more of 20 years charter flights Boeing 707-351C OO-ABA c/n 18746 (1979)
(Coll Serge Van Heertum)
 Boeing 737-2P6   OO-ABB  c/n 21359 (1980-1982)
(Coll Serge Van Heertum)
Boeing 737-2Q8 OO-RVM  c/n 22453 (1982)
(Coll Serge Van Heertum)
 Boeing 737-247 OO-PLH c/n 20128 (1982-1986)
(Coll Serge Van Heertum)
Boeing 737-3Q8 OO-ILF c/n 23401 (1986-1988)
(Serge Van Heertum ©)
 Boeing 737-3Q8 OO-ILK c/n 23766 (1996-1999)
(Serge Van Heertum ©)
OO-ILK second paint scheme, the last real Air Belgium
(Serge Van Heertum ©)
 Boeing 737-4Q8 OO-ILH c/n 24234 (1988-1991)
(Serge Van Heertum ©)
Boeing 737-46B OO-ILJ c/n 25262 (1991-2000)
(Serge Van Heertum ©)
 OO-ILJ in second paint scheme
(Serge Van Heertum ©)
and the OO-ILJ with a third one but with Airtours tuxedo
(Coll Denis Eusicom / DR)
 Boeing 757-23A OO-ILI c/n 24528 (1989-1995)
(Serge Van Heertum ©)
 Airbus A320-211 G-TPTT became the OO-AEY
(Serge Van Heertum ©)
Airbus A320-211 OO-AEY c/n 348 (1999) Leased from Airtours
(Serge Van Heertum ©)
 Note the little Air Belgium logo...the begin of the end
(Serge Van Heertum ©)
Airbus A320-211 OO-AEZ c/n 349 (1999) Leased from Airtours
(Serge Van Heertum ©)
 

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