Startup carrier Air Belgium has its sights set on launching three new routes to destinations in China including Taiyuan, Zhengzhou and Wuhan between September and November this year.
The airline’s CEO, Niky Terzakis, recently confirmed Air Belgium’s plans to newspapers Le Soir and L’Avenir.
Business Traveller previously reported that the new carrier aimed to launch flights to the Chinese mainland this September and that it had secondary cities including Wuhan in its sights.
Meanwhile, Terzakis added that connections to between four and six new destinations in Asia, notably Tokyo, Seoul and Cebu, are also being targeted for this October.
A spokesperson for the airline has confirmed to Business Traveller that these four to six additional connections will actually be operated by partner airlines and will include a stopover in Hong Kong.
Air Belgium launched its inaugural route, between Brussels South Charleroi Airport and Hong Kong, in June.
Launching a new route to China as early as next month is an ambitious plan for the startup airline, particularly considering the difficulty with which airport slots are acquired in the country.
And according to the spokesperson, not much other information about the routes can be announced at this stage, bringing into question whether the airline will be able to meet its September target.
Air Belgium’s inaugural Hong Kong route notably experienced numerous pushbacks before finally taking off this summer, driven largely by issues with its global distribution system (GDS) in China and difficulty in acquiring overfly rights from Russian authorities.
The Belgian airline also faces stiff competition on the mainland from China’s myriad carriers, which have been expanding internationally over the past years, particularly in Europe. The country’s largest airline, China Southern, recently launched non-stop flights between Wuhan and London.
Air Belgium, which bases itself out of the lesser-known Brussels South Charleroi Airport, positions itself as a hybrid airline combining good service with affordable fares and seeks to target business and premium passengers in particular.