伯尼（Bernie），您为什么要在一张桌子旁放着一堆俄罗斯男人的照片的情况下开始飞行检查？因为这不是关于航空公司在哪里的故事 贝拉维亚 原为— this is more about where 贝拉维亚 is going. Legally speaking, 贝拉维亚 turns 20Â next March, but they are actually much older. Back in the times of the Soviet Union, Aeroflot used to be broken down into departments based on the Soviet Republics. In other words, there used to be Aeroflot Belarus that 原为headquartered in 明斯克. The Belorussian Directorate of Civil Aviation first came into being in 1953 with its first flight between the old 明斯克 airport and Moscow.
Having spent so much time working with 贝拉维亚 and their historic Tu-154s, it’s very important to share why 贝拉维亚 exists, but also what their current passenger experience looks like.
A Bit of 贝拉维亚 and Soviet History
1991年，苏联解体。他离开了新成立的 白俄罗斯共和国 with the old Aeroflot directorate and its fleet. The new airline, 贝拉维亚, sucked up almost all the employees of the old airline. Not much changed in terms of ownership structure; Â Belavia started as a 100% state-owned company and will remain that way. Funny that no one complains about 这家政府资助的航空公司 在国际媒体上，但我离题了。有一天，他们可能会探索一些私人投资机会，但是从那以后的时间长度是未知的。
Immediately after 贝拉维亚’的正式成立，俄罗斯（白俄罗斯’最大的贸易伙伴）在困难时期陷入困境，从而拖累了白俄罗斯。机队从各种各样的图波列夫和安东诺夫降到了原来的一小部分。可是等等？曾经’t there a 贝拉维亚 Il-86? Well, yes. Except it 原为never property of the Aeroflot department in Belarus, nor 贝拉维亚.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, lawlessness 原为the norm. Some shady characters were trying to move an Il-86 to either the Middle East or deeper into central Asia, depending on who you talk to. In the name of convenience, they chose to move it through 明斯克 and pretend the aircraft 原为part of (non-existant at the time) 贝拉维亚. Eventually, the economy recovered enough such that 贝拉维亚 could finally lease a new fleet, which is what they have today (other than the Tu-154Ms, which they have kept since their inception).
贝拉维亚’s long-term vision consists of two things. Fleet renewal and a focus on connecting traffic. 贝拉维亚 is well aware that their CRJ-200s are both too small and too inefficient to meet their needs; they also know that their leased 737-300s and 737-500s are not getting any younger either. If 贝拉维亚 had unlimited money, their dream replacement fleet would be roughly 15Â 737-800s, 10Â Embraer 195s, and five or six 巴西航空工业公司175s. They have no desire, or reason, to enter into the long-haul market. It’看到一个梦想成真的小型航空公司，真令人耳目一新。
问题是西方’反对乌克兰自决的斗争使白俄罗斯像俄罗斯一样陷入了严重的经济困境。这也影响了其波罗的海贸易伙伴。货运量下降，旅客人数恶化。您可以看到明斯克市与去年相比的差异— their aircraft utilization has plummeted. Not only does this leave 贝拉维亚 with less money to spend on fleet renewal, but it seriously hampers their dream of being a connecting carrier 对于 the region.
那里 is another factor at play hampering 贝拉维亚’s sixth-freedom dreams: the government. Right now, some people can getÂ a 24-hour transit visa, but it is not that easy to obtain. 贝拉维亚 wants this to become a much-easier-to-obtain, 72-hour document. It might happen, it might not. Nothing is ever certain in Belarus until the president signs off on it.
So 贝拉维亚 has a rough road ahead, but they will recover. Belarus will recover, Russia will recover. 贝拉维亚 has the government support it needs to at least maintain its current standing regardless. This is a good thing as I am about to explain why 贝拉维亚 is the second-best airline in Europe, via a recent flight I took with them.
My 贝拉维亚 Flight Review
We arrived at 明斯克 as check-in 原为closing. I had already confirmed my upgrade to business class 对于 a very reasonable price, but due to the late check-in, two of my companions were upgraded due to their seats vanishing. When has that ever happened to you? It was, in fact, one of my friends’任何形式的商务首飞！可悲的是，紧迫的时间使我无法欣赏明斯克国民’s premium lounge.
Boarding 原为not only via bus, but down a flight of stairs that 原为also labeled “国航乘客飞往布达佩斯。” Since I 原为last in 明斯克, Air China has started service; it continues on to Hungary.
The seats on the 巴西航空工业公司 are the exact same as business class on every E-jet I have flown. Sometimes airlines have in-flight entertainment (IFE), but that is not usually the case. 贝拉维亚, sadly, 原为in that camp.
We were given a pre-departure water, a branded candy, and a copy of the 明斯克 Times. Shortly after the doors were shut, the engines started, and we headed 对于 the runway. The take off roll 原为around 42 seconds —顺理成章，因为我们要进行相对较长的飞行。
Over western Belarus, we actually passed another aircraft after reaching cruise altitude! Okay, not much of an achievement, as the aircraft we passed in the (slow) 巴西航空工业公司 原为an 安东诺夫An-74 属于俄罗斯’空军。在白俄罗斯腹地看到的飞机不足为奇。嘘ortly after the excitement, it 原为time 对于 lunch. Not a tiny plate lunch of cold cuts and unrecognizable creams, either.
The starter 原为exactly that. Thankfully, I 原为flying with a pescatarian friend so I 原为able to trade my fish 对于 his dish. It felt a bit like a game of 卡坦定居者。无论哪种方式，肉都可以很好地腌制。我什至不知道它们是哪种肉。牛肉。
I’我会承认，不是我最好的食物照片，但是我没有’t want to engender the suspicion of the cabin crew 对于 taking pictures in flight. Also, there 原为so much glare in the cabin from my AvGeek friends leaving the blinds open — the nerve! Oh well, at least the chicken 原为very good. I thought lunch would be complete after the chicken, but I 原为wrong — gratefully so!
It 原为very nice to have a tray service just 对于 dessert. The chocolate bar 原为lovely, as were the pastries and I think that the one in the middle of the photograph 原为my favorite.
Sadly, and this is the only negative thing about my 贝拉维亚 flight, they use my least favorite airport in London: Gatwick. It has an even less premium arrivals experience than Heathrow.
为什么可以’t all airlines in Europe be that good? I 原为thrilled with my 贝拉维亚 flight to London and I’d happily fly 贝拉维亚 again in business. The hard part is I rarely have a need to be in Belarus, unless there’是一架需要我驾驶的特定俄罗斯飞机。