Rendering of Air Belgium A340-300
New Belgian airline, Air Belgium, will begin ticket sales April 3 for flights set to launch April 16. Initial flights will serve Hong Kong from the carrier’s base at Brussels South Charleroi Airport. Later Air Belgium will fly to mainland China.
Air Belgium is 49.995% owned by a company called Aviation Investment Holding NV., which is likely held by Chinese and Russian interests previously known to be involved in the project.
Other major investors are Belgian national and regional government companies.
The carrier has been set up with investment from China’s largest travel agency, UTour, which expects to feed it with passengers, according to an industry source in China familiar with the business plan. Other non-Belgian partners include Russian interests, the source said.
Adding an airline business to core activities is expected to be a trend in the Chinese travel agency business.
Aviation Investment Holding will be represented on the Air Belgium board by directors Peter Yip, Alexey Sumchenko and Mikko Rautio, the airline said, detailing its ownership.
But Air Belgium must have majority Belgian ownership if it is to use the traffic rights of its home country. That nationality is evidently supplied by the other shareholders, which, ranked by size, are: 3T Management & Associates BVBA (with 19.993%), regional government investor Societe Regionale d’Investissement de Wallonie NV (12.501%), national government investor Federale Participatie- en Investeringsmaatschappij NV (12.501%) and Sabena Aerospace NV (5.01%).
(Bradley Perrett - Aviation Week / ATWOnline News)