In the past there have been several failed attempts to operate a commercially viable line between Antwerp and the English capital. Air Antwerp believes it can make a success of the flight stressing that the rail link isn’t a fully-fledged alternative for business people. To start off Air Antwerp operates one 29-year-old Fokker aircraft and has a staff of 15. London City is the sole destination with flights three days a week on weekdays and one on Sunday.
The two airports are separated by 306 km as the crow flies, but Air Antwerp’s Marcel Buelens buts off criticism: “There is no non-stop rail link. You have to stop at Brussels South and possibly at Lille. The plane is faster.”
Air Antwerp is partly funded by KLM of the Netherlands that also sells its tickets online. Earlier attempts to operate the route stranded on profitability. Air Antwerp is upbeat. Marcel Buelens: “Our first flights are full. We will take things carefully. We’re starting with one plane and will expand when it is profitable.”
Air Antwerp also boasts two partners: KLM and Cityjet. “Strong partners make the difference” says Marcel Buelens.