[Update: Air Belgium has since confirmed its inaugural flight will land at Hong Kong International Airport on June 7, 2018]
After a somewhat troubled beginning, startup carrier Air Belgium has finally secured overfly rights from the Russian authorities, paving the way for its eventual launch of flights to Asia on June 3, 2018.
Speaking about the development, Air Belgium CEO, Niky Terzakis, told Luchtvaartnieuws that the launch of its inaugural service between Brussels South Charleroi Airport and Hong Kong is on track to launch next month, and that the carrier also aims to have its third Airbus A340 aircraft up and running by the end of June.
This will enable the airline to launch its first flights to the Chinese mainland alongside its Hong Kong flights, something Terzakis said the airline plans to do in the coming months.
First things first, however, Air Belgium will need to get its initial route to Hong Kong up in the air, the launch date of which has been pushed back twice now.
The most recent delay came as a result of the airline not yet having been given the necessary overfly rights from the Russian authorities, as well as complications with its GDS system that prevented Chinese tourist groups from being directed to its flights.
Despite tickets already having gone on sale, the carrier was forced to push back its April 30 start date to June 3.
Why are Russian overflying rights so important?
Airlines that secure Trans-Siberian overflying rights gain access to a much shorter air corridor between Europe and Asia.
And Air Belgium isn’t the only European carrier that recently has encountered difficulties in securing them.
Icelandic carriers Wow and Icelandair both reportedly have been denied overflying rights, hampering their plans to turn Reykjavik into a hub connecting travellers in North America and Europe to Asia.
Fellow Nordic carrier Finnair, however, has been able to use the Trans-Siberian corridor over Russia to expand its operations to Asia from its Helsinki hub.