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Belgian Carriers to Remain Grounded Until Mid-May or Later
Belgian flag-carrier, Brussels Airlines, and Air Belgium have both announced extensions to their entire flight suspensions in light of the unsolved situation with the new coronavirus pandemic. Brussels has extended its grounding until at least May 15. Air Belgium has extended its suspension even further; light operations won’t restart before June 3.
Brussels Airlines, a subsidiary of German Star Alliance carrier, Lufthansa, originally suspended all flights from March 21 through April 19, but earlier this week confirmed it would not restart scheduled flights until mid-May. During that time, it has parked and stored many of its aircraft, including its flagship Airbus A330, only putting a few on standby to bring home Belgian travelers stranded abroad.
In a press release, Brussels Airlines assured travelers that its maintenance and engineering teams are working hard to maintain and protect its stored aircraft. The staff has followed instructions form Airbus to cover seats, tape off windows to avoid sunlight discoloring, and pack landing gear and engines to ensure birds cannot nest inside them. A taxiway is being used at its home base at Brussels Airport to accommodate stored aircraft.
Air Belgium, a much smaller, new long-haul carrier, similarly followed suit the same week, suspending operations until June 3. The long-haul carrier originally intended to suspend service from March 25 to April 5. In the meantime, the airline has been operating repatriation flights rescuing its nationals from Argentina, Dakar, Banjul, and the French Antilles.
Brussels Airlines has already requested emergency aid for 290 million Euros from the Belgian government. Tui Fly, another Belgian carrier, has also made a request for 250 million Euros.
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