Air Belgium has secured its Air Operator Certificate (AOC), paving the way for its first commercial services. Announcing its approval by Belgium’s Direction générale Transport aérien (DGTA) on March 13, the Mont-Saint-Guibert-headquartered start-up said it hopes to launch revenue flights to Hong Kong by mid-April.
The certification comes just weeks after the airline took delivery of maiden aircraft. The former Finnair Airbus A340-313s, OO-ABA (c/n 835) and OO-ABB (c/n 844), were handed over on February 16 and are the first of an eventual four examples expected to join the Belgian carrier.
Separately, CEO Niky Terzakis said the relatively short 8,366ft (2,550m) runway at the airline’s Brussels/Charleroi base means outbound sectors will initially be payload-restricted. Terzakis told ch-aviation: “We will be operating temporarily at reduced lower deck cargo uplift Eastbound from Charleroi and essentially only on the longest route, Charleroi to Hong Kong.
“The prospect of an en-route fuel stop is [also] out of the question. We will not, however, have any limitations on passengers or cargo on westbound legs,” he said.
Terzakis added that operations will start with the aircraft configured in 257 seats but will eventually increase to 303. Cargo restrictions are also expected to be progressively lifted as outstanding environmental and infrastructural issues are addressed, including adding a 2,300ft-long (700m) runway extension.