Despite the terrorist attacks of 22 March and a very strong low-cost competition, Brussels Airlines closed 2016 with a profit. The Belgian airline registered a passenger growth of more than 3% and was able to reach a net profit of 15 million euro, after a deduction of 2.5 million euro which the airline will redistribute to its personnel in recognition of the tremendous efforts made after 22 March.
Brussels Airlines’ financial results were largely influenced by the attacks that hit Brussels last year. Before 22 March, Brussels Airlines was heading for a record year and was registering strong growth. Following the attacks, and the 12-day closure of Brussels Airport, however, there was a sharp decrease in the number of passengers – especially with regards to incoming business traffic to Belgium. Yet, thanks to several commercial initiatives, Brussels Airlines managed to close the year with a passenger growth of 3.2% – a total of 7.7 million passengers took a Brussels Airlines flight. The seat load factor was just under 75% and the transported cargo volume grew by 6%.
The direct financial impact of the attacks amounted to more than 100 million euro. Only a portion thereof could be offset through compensations already granted by the insurance companies or estimated to be granted in the future.
Despite this major financial setback, Brussels Airlines continued with its planned investments. The intercontinental network expanded thanks to the successful launch of Toronto and the announcement of a Mumbai service for 2017, the European seat offer grew by 3% and the fleet renewal programme was further implemented. The planned investments for passenger comfort, including the introduction of the new long-haul travel class Economy Privilege, was launched.
“Although it seemed logical to review our aspirations after the attacks, we have nevertheless chosen to continue our investments without exception, because we knew we had created a strong base for Brussels Airlines over the years,” Bernard Gustin, CEO Brussels Airlines, said.