By Harry Tamrazian in Prague
Two Armenian passenger jets, identical to an Armavia Airbus A320 that crashed this week, burned down in an overnight fire in a maintenance hangar of Brussels airport, the Belgian company that ran the facility confirmed on Friday.
“There were four aircraft, two of them Armenian, in the hangar, and unfortunately all four have been destroyed,” a spokeswoman for Sabena Technics, Karla Daniels, told RFE/RL from the Belgian capital. She said the planes belonged to Armavia and another, smaller Armenian airline.
The head of Armenia’s civil aviation authority, Artyom Movsisian, was reported to have confirmed the information.
Reports from Brussels said the fire broke out at around midnight and was brought under control about two hours later. One man was seriously injured and two firefighters were lightly wounded in the blaze that forced the cancellation of some overnight flights from Brussels.
According to Daniels, Sabena Technics believes that the fire did not result from an arson attack. “We strongly disbelieve that the incident was intentional,” she said. “But we have to wait for the results of an investigation launched by the Belgian police. We have no results yet of this investigation.”
The two Armenian airliners had flown to Brussels to undergo full-scale servicing. It is not clear if that had anything to do with Wednesday’s crash of another Armavia plane that killed all 113 people on board. The Armavia owner, Mikhail Baghdasarian, insisted on Thursday, that the crashed Airbus A320 “underwent capital repairs in Brussels” as recently as last month.
However, Daniels categorically denied this. “The aircraft that underwent the crash on its way to Sochi has never been at Sabena Technics in Brussels,” she said. “Sabena Technics engineers have worked on the aircraft in Yerevan, but never here in Belgium.”
Speaking to RFE/RL in Sochi, Baghdasarov also said that his company will suffer “millions of dollars” in losses as a result of the crash. The loss of another A320 will thus deal a further financial blow to the private carrier whose fleet had counted only four Airbus airliners and two Soviet-made Yak-42 planes before Wednesday’s disaster.