MIAMI – Today, Air Belgium (KF) completed its first scheduled cargo flight on behalf of The CMA CGM Group after acquiring four Airbus A330-200Fs from Qatar Airways (QR).

The flight, from Liege (LGG) to Chicago (ORD), took 8 hours and 45 minutes, landing at 1:39 PM. 

The cargo flights are operated by and under KF’s air operator’s certificate on behalf of the French shipping giant, The CMA CGM Group. The Group specializes in maritime shipping operations but has only recently begun air cargo operations.

To that effect, CMA CGM purchased four Airbus A330-200Fs from QR in order to jumpstart operations. The carrier will operate the cargo flights from Europe to far corners of the world while maintaining a strong reach in the West Indies. 

Photo: Miles Aronovitz/Airways

Cargo as Growth During COVID-19

At the time of announcing their plans to operate dedicated cargo aircraft, Niky Terzakis, CEO of Air Belgium, said, “In such an uncertain period, this is good news for the airline. We are delighted to be able to begin this diversification into the commercial and cargo sector, which my team and I know well.”

He continued, “This will complement our existing passenger business which has been severely impacted by the current travel restrictions. This demonstrates once again the resilience and flexibility of our airline’s development potential.” 

Cargo operations have been a remedy for airlines facing harsh travel restrictions. Many airlines temporarily converted passenger aircraft to operate cargo flights on previous passenger routes.

The adaptability of airlines to transition to reliance on cargo operations in a time of strong e-commerce growth was crucial in maintaining a cash flow. 

Air Belgium Airbus A340 | Photo: Ervin Eslami/Airways

Belgian Charter Experts

Air Belgium has become a major player in the charter airline industry, having conducted short-term and long-term charter flights on behalf of other airlines.

This included flights for Air France (AF) connecting France and Libreville, Gabon, as well as flights on behalf of Surinam Air. 

The flexibility of a charter airline to quickly arrange operations on behalf of other airlines has surely been a valuable trait during COVID-19.

Featured Image: Miles Aronovitz/Airways