Brussels Airlines could fire 1000 employees, unions in shock

Brussels Airlines presented a recovery plan that includes a reduction of its workforce by a quarter and of its fleet by a third in order to “ensure its survival and create a sustainable future”, as the airline faces the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. It requires support from its parent company Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA) and from the Belgian government.

As it loses about €1 million per day, Brussels Airlines presented a series of measures to alleviate costs. A revision of the network will be operated to cut the marginally profitable and unprofitable routes ‒ about 22. This will allow a reduction of the fleet to 38 aircraft, from the current 54. The drop in capacity will consequently be accompanied by a cut in the workforce. 1.000 jobs are at stake. 

Brussels Airlines was already in a restructuring phase since 2019 in order to make it more profitable by 2022. Job cuts among ground workers were made. However, just like the rest of the industry, the coronavirus crisis hit the Belgian airline hard. 

“This unprecedented crisis has made our financial situation worse, forcing us to take important and necessary measures,” said CEO Dieter Vranckx. “Restructuring is urgently needed in order to survive the current crisis and become structurally competitive for the future.”

Following a request from Brussels Airlines, Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA) and the Belgian government are negotiating a support package of €290 million in order to save the airline. But negotiations seem to be stalling and the two parties seem to be throwing the responsibility back and forth.

The scale of the measures was met with “shock” by the trade unions. They were received by the Prime Minister, Sophie Wilmès, to discuss the conditions of this restructuring plan. Unions are pushing for the authorities to receive guarantees from Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA) , due to receive €10 billion from the German government, before any restructuring plan is signed. 

However, that might prove difficult. “They did not promise us anything today and they ask us to continue to negotiate with the management of Brussels Airlines,” protested Didier Lebbe, representative of the CNE union, quoted by RTBF.

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