New Belgian airline to target Chinese market from 2017

A new Belgian airline is planning to offer several direct weekly flights to China as of June 2017, local media reported Wednesday.

Air Belgium, which is not yet operational, could provide competition to Belgium's main flight operator Brussels Airlines, a subsidiary of Germany's Lufthansa.

"Air Belgium will be a regular passenger aviation company - I prefer to say low-tariff rather than low-cost," company head Niky Terzakis told Le Soir daily.

Until recently, Terzakis ran the Belgian cargo operator TNT Airways, which was sold this year to Ireland's ASL Airlines and rebranded.

Air Belgium, based outside the capital in Louvain-la-Neuve, so far only has around a dozen staff and has not yet determined whether to operate out of Brussels, Charleroi or Liege, Le Soir reported. The company hopes to ultimately employ 400 people.

From June onwards, the airline plans to offer three or four direct weekly flights to China, focusing on secondary airports. In the longer term it is looking to expand further into the Asian market.

Air Belgium is owned by Asian and European shareholders, with the latter holding a majority stake, Le Soir wrote.

Europe's airline industry has faced fierce outside competition, notably from companies based in the Persian Gulf.

In the 1980s-1990s, a charter airline existed by the name of Air Belgium. The company was later taken over by Britain's Airtours and ended its operations in 2000.

Last update: Wed, 24/08/2016 - 20:41

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