Air Belgium (KF, Brussels Charleroi) has announced that it will diversify away from its reliance on long-haul scheduled and charter passenger operations through the planned addition of four dedicated freighters in the short-term, growing to six units by the end of 2021.

The airline plans to base its first two freighters, due for entry into service by the end of March 2021, out of Liège, a cargo-focused airport in eastern Belgium near the border with Germany and the Netherlands.

Air Belgium did not provide any further information about types of aircraft it plans to add. The carrier's spokesperson refused to comment.

However, Aero.de has reported that the Belgian carrier will take over all four A330-200Fs from Qatar Airways (QR, Doha Hamad Int'l), namely A7-AFG (msn 1584), A7-AFH (msn 1594), A7-AFI (msn 1688), and A7-AFJ (msn 1708).

"In such an uncertain period, this is good news for the airline. We are delighted to be able to begin this diversification towards the merchant and cargo sector that my team and I know well. This will complement our passenger activities severely impacted by current travel restrictions," Chief Executive Niky Terzakis said.

Air Belgium will continue its passenger flights out of Brussels Charleroi. Its network comprises of services from the Belgian capital's secondary airport to Fort de France and Pointe à Pitre. Both routes will be suspended as of January 30 through at least March 1 due to the ban on non-essential travel to and from Belgium. The carrier also plans to launch a scheduled route to Mauritius once border restrictions are lifted. It operates three A340-300s, of which two were active on the Caribbean routes and one has been stored at Lourdes/Tarbes since October 2020, the ch-aviation fleets advanced module shows.

During 2020, Air Belgium deployed its Airbus quadjets on cargo-only charter flights, mostly to transport personal protective equipment.

Editorial Comment: Article updated with the reports of the aircraft type. - 01.02.2021 - 10:32 UTC