|Founded||5 March 1996|
|Hubs||Minsk National Airport|
|Frequent-flyer program||Belavia Leader|
|Parent company||Government of Belarus|
|Key people||A. N. Gusarov, Director-general|
Belavia Belarusian Airlines, legally Joint Stock Company "Belavia Belarusian Airlines" (Belarusian: ААТ «Авіякампанія «Белавія»; Russian: ОАО «Авиакомпания «Белавиа»), is the flag carrier and national airline of Belarus, headquartered in Minsk. The state-owned company had, as of 2007, 1,017 employees. Belavia serves a network of routes between European cities and the Commonwealth of Independent States, as well as some Middle East destinations from its base at Minsk National Airport.
On 7 November 1933, the first Belarusian air terminal opened in Minsk. In the next spring 3 Po-2 aircraft landed in Minsk. They became the first aircraft of the Belarusian air fleet. In 1936 the first regular air route between Minsk and Moscow was established. In the summer of 1940 the Belarusian civil aviation group was officially founded.
In 1964, the Tupolev Tu-124 aircraft received Belarusian registration. In 1973, the then new Tupolev Tu-134A began operating in Belarus. In 1983 Belarusian aviation started flying the new Tupolev Tu-154 planes.
The airline was officially founded on 5 March 1996 in accordance with a resolution of the Belarusian Government "On the restructuring of air transport of the Republic, Belarus", when the local Aeroflot division was nationalised and renamed. Between then and 1998 Belavia opened regular routes to Beijing, Istanbul, Larnaca, London, Prague, and Rome. In 1998, Belavia merged with MinskAvia, acquiring several Antonov An-24, Antonov An-26 and Yakovlev Yak-40 aircraft in addition to existing fleet of Tupolev Tu-134 and Tupolev Tu-154 airplanes.
Development since the 2000s
On 18 May 2001, Belavia commenced a Minsk-Paris scheduled service with Tu-134s and Tu-154s.
In 2003 Belavia started publishing an in-flight magazine Horizons in English, Russian and Belarusian. On 16 October 2003, Belavia signed a leasing agreement for its first Boeing 737-500 aircraft. In 2004, Belavia further extended operations and acquired one more Boeing 737. On 26 June 2004 Belavia opened a new route to Hanover, Germany. 2011 saw the introduction of a new route between Minsk and Helsinki, Finland.
Between 2003 and 2009, the airline has seen its passenger numbers double and in 2009 handled just under 700,000 customers.
Three leased Bombardier CRJ 100 aircraft were introduced on regional services from Minsk. The first one was delivered in February 2007, with the other two later in 2007. They directly replaced the aging Antonov An-24 and Tupolev Tu-134 aircraft. It was looking to lease two Bombardier CRJ-700s in 2010. Belavia had also planned to retire its remaining Tupolev Tu-154Ms by 2011 following the retirement of its last Tupolev Tu-134 in summer 2009 which was replaced by an ex-FlyLAL Boeing 737-500. On 27 June 2014 an order was announced for three Boeing 737-800 aircraft to be acquired directly by Belavia. The first of these was delivered in August 2016.
Belavia is considering adding longhaul aircraft to its fleet to introduce new routes to China and North America. The government is reportedly also considering merging regional carrier Gomelavia and cargo operator TransAVIAexport Airlines into Belavia.
In August 2016, Belavia received their first aircraft with their new livery. This is the first re-branding since the company's founding in 1996. The new livery was applied a brand new Boeing 737-800. The much newer 737's replaced the aging Tupolev Tu-154's. On 1 October 2016, Belavia retired their two remaining Tupolev Tu-154s from scheduled services as one of the last airlines worldwide to do so.
Belavia flies to Asia, Europe and Africa from its base at Minsk National Airport. In addition to scheduled destinations listed here, Belavia operates charter flights to leisure destinations and VIP charters.
As of June 2018, the Belavia fleet consists of the following aircraft:
|Boeing 737-300||7||—||—||148||148||To be phased out.|
|Boeing 737 MAX 8||—||4||TBA||To be delivered May 2019|
|Antonov An-24||Acquired in 1998 from MinskAvia|
|Antonov An-26||Acquired in 1998 from MinskAvia|
|Ilyushin Il-86||EW-86062, ex СССР-86062, then RA-86062 to Atlant-Soyuz Airlines;|
Was used in 1994—1996 on charter routes to US and China
|Tupolev Tu-154B||One used as training mock-up|
|Tupolev Tu-154-B2||6 scrapped, 9 stored at MSQ; One used as training mock-up|
|Yakovlev Yak-40||Acquired in 1998 from MinskAvia|
Incidents and accidents
- On 6 January 2003, a Yakovlev Yak-40 suffered a shattered windshield during flight, en route to Prague. Two Czech Air Force fighters accompanied the plane to a safe landing in Ruzyně International Airport.
- On 14 February 2008, Belavia Flight 1834, a Bombardier CRJ-100ER en route from Yerevan, Armenia, to Minsk hit its left wing on the runway during takeoff from Zvartnots International Airport, subsequently crashing on the ground, flipping over and coming to a stop inverted near the runway. All 18 passengers and 3 crew members managed to escape the aircraft before it erupted into flames, partly due to the timely response of the fire and rescue crew at the airport. The main cause of the crash was icing contamination leading to a stall of the left wing.
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Media related to Belavia at Wikimedia Commons