While I love when new airlines add flights to Hong Kong (since it gives me more choices personally), Air Belgium’s flight from Brussels-Charleroi to Hong Kong has always been a bit of a joke. They started flights from Brussels Charleroi to Hong Kong last year, and cut them off after a while. I thought that was the end of them at the time.
Fortunately Air Belgium has found some luck in wet-leasing their two A340s to other airlines with an aircraft shortage, such as British Airways. That’s good news, since I thought they had a decent cabin product, despite the actual hardware (A340) being outdated.
I thought Air Belgium had learnt their lesson that flying a flight from Brussels’ minor airport to Hong Kong, without having any sort of record on the GDS whatsoever, wasn’t a good idea. Apparently not. From March 31, 2019, Air Belgium is restarting flights between Hong Kong and Brussels-Charleroi.
Air Belgium Airbus A340 Business Class
The scheduling will follow what the airline used to operate in the past – an afternoon flight from Brussels into Hong Kong, and a late morning flight out of Hong Kong arriving Charleroi early evening. Reservation is open for half a year, until September 19, 2019. The route will operate three times a week – Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays out of Charleroi, and Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays out of Hong Kong.
While the onboard product seemed to be great from what I heard, there are many other things that went wrong with the airline’s last flight to Hong Kong. I’m hoping they’ve re-evaluated the points below during the route’s hiatus:
- The route wasn’t even in the GDS last time, so I hope they’ve managed to change that in the meantime. Not being in the GDS means travel agents have no access to it, which means that planes went out with about 20-25 people, all of which deliberately went onto the airline’s website to book their flight (since that was the only way to book).
- Air Belgium sold part of their business class cabin as premium economy, so they were losing revenue anyway. Not that I’d complain if I booked premium economy and got a business class seat, but it just adds to how unprofessional the airline is; hopefully they either only sell business and economy this time around, or actually retrofit their planes with a premium economy cabin.
- The airline kept rescheduling their flights for passengers due to low demand. The route now operates three times a week, which could possibly work if they manage to put their flights in the GDS; last time around they couldn’t even fill a twice-weekly flight, so this would seem poorly thought out if they didn’t do something proactively to increase demand.
Honestly speaking, if I needed to get to Brussels, Air Belgium would be a cheap and economic way to get there. Under the right circumstances, the airline could potentially drive down market prices and be a welcome, refreshing addition to the market. However, with how poorly thought out the route was last time, they need to have made major changes for the flight to work out this time around – especially if they keep operating the flight to an airport 69 miles out of Brussels’ city center.
Who’s thinking of trying Air Belgium this time around?