Today is a historic day for Belgian aviation. At 2:10pm Air Belgium’s first commercial flight to Hong Kong will take off from Charleroi (also known as Brussels South) Airport in Hainaut Province. It will be the first ever commercial long-haul flight to take off from what is Belgium’s second busiest passenger airport.
The launch of Air Belgium’s service has been a long time coming. At the beginning of last year the airline’s CEO Niky Terzakis unveiled his plans for the long-haul service that was to have been launched last summer. However, it wasn’t until March of this year that the airline was granted a licence.
By then Mr Terzakis had announced that his airline would be based at Charleroi and its first destination would be Hong Kong. Initially a launch date of 30 April was announced.
However, this was put back awaiting permission to fly over Russia. Permission was granted in mid-May and it was decided that the launch date should be Sunday 3 June.
The first scheduled flight is anything but sold out. However, the airline says that it consider it to be a “technical flight”, a kind of dress rehearsal to make sure that everything is ready. The airline considers its second flight to Hong Kong on Wednesday to be its “inaugural flight” and festivities are planned at the airport ahead of that.