Brussels Airlines is facing a strike from its pilots and cabin crews on June 23 through June 25.
This coincides with the European Union summit in Brussels.
The unions are upset at the high work pressure.
Brussels Airlines issued this statement:
Towards and about our passengers:
“Our first priority right now are our passengers. We sincerely regret the impact these actions have on our customers. At the moment we do not yet know how many flights will be impacted by the social action and how many will be operated as planned. We are doing everything possible to revise our flights schedule as soon as we have a view on the participation rate of our crews in the strike actions. We will inform all passengers travelling on 23, 24 and 25 June about the status of their flight and if needed, alternative travel options. We ask our passengers for their patience and to not call our service centres at this moment as they can’t provide any further information yet. Passengers can check on our website if their contact details are included in their booking (Manage My Booking) and add them if not yet done. Passengers who have booked via a tour operator or (online) travel agency need to contact their respective agency.”
About the social discussions:
“We regret that the talks with our social partners have not led to an agreement for our cockpit and cabin crew departments.
In the past weeks and months we have taken a series of initiatives to relieve the work pressure for our operational departments in this exceptional summer. Amongst others, we have taken out 148 flights to ease the operations. We recruited 225 additional cabin crew members and we have adapted flight duties as a response to the requests from our staff about the heavy workload.
As we were loss making in 2020, in 2021 and still as well in Quarter 1, 2022, our financial situation does not allow us to reverse or reopen the current CLAs, which were signed as part of our agreement with the Belgian Government by all our social partners in 2020 to guarantee a future for our company.
We have succeeded fairly well in fulfilling our staffing needs, customers are eager to fly with us again to their holiday destinations after two years of isolation, booking numbers are rising at high speed,… all good reasons to be optimistic for our future. After our turnaround program Reboot Plus and two years of fighting the worst crisis in our history, we are now scrambling to keep up with the fast recovery of our industry.
Recovery, in the sense that demand is coming back at an unseen speed for the summer, but not a recovery of the heavy losses we have suffered. In aviation it is imperative that we take the opportunity of the summer months to make a profit. Furthermore, we are battling significantly increased costs, mainly but not only, due to the fuel price. A three-day strike will have a very large impact on our company’s bottom line and would force us to review the growth we had planned.”
At this time 525 flights are planned for June 23, 24 and 25. We do not yet know how many of those will be cancelled as this depends on the participation rate of our crews in the strike action. We will keep you posted on further developments.
After two years of absence in the markets, Brussels Airlines returns to Conakry and Ouagadougou. Both destinations welcome a first flight today (June 11) out of Brussels.
From now on, Brussels Airlines will connect Brussels with both capitals three times a week.
In Conakry, the Brussels Airlines crew and passengers will be welcomed by the Belgian ambassador in Guinee, Guy Hambrouck, and by the local Brussels Airlines team of country manager Khadiatou Bah.
About the destinations and the schedules
Burkina Faso, “Country of Honest People” is located in West Africa, in the Sahel area, with a total population of 20 million. The capital Ouagadougou, often referred to as “Ouaga”, counts 3 million inhabitants. Burkina Faso is renowned internationally and in Africa for its cultural life.
Conakry is located at the coast of Guinea in West-Africa. It has a population of 3,5 million while the country counts a total of about 13 million inhabitants.
Brussels Airlines started flying to Conakry for the first time in 2002, the same year the airline was born.
Flights between Brussels and Ouagadougou and Brussels and Conakry will be operated on an Airbus A330. The early arrival in Brussels offers connection options to the entire Brussels Airlines network in Europe and the US.
Brussels Airlines is the home carrier of Belgium and one of the four network airlines of the Lufthansa Group. It connects the European capital from Brussels Airport with over 85 destinations, 17 of which are in Sub Saharan Africa. The company employs 3,100 people and operates 41 aircraft.
In other news, the company is facing an “indefinite strike” threat by its pilots. On Friday, June 10, the unions representing the pilots filed an “indefinite strike notice”.
As part of its new brand identity, Brussels Airlines is creating a new uniform for its cabin crew, pilots and airport staff. The Belgian airline is partnering with the Fashion Department of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp, where second year student Gabrielle Szwarcenberg emerged as the winner among five students who each drew three signature items in a competition to become the designer of the complete Brussels Airlines uniform. With this collaboration, Brussels Airlines wants to show even more of its Belgian DNA and promote the Belgian fashion scene worldwide.
As of summer 2023, Brussels Airlines’ cabin crew, pilots and airport staff will wear a new uniform. To design the uniform, the airline partnered with the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp. After surveying the staff about their needs and preferences, five promising students from the academy were selected and briefed to convey the new brand identity in the design of a new uniform.
“The Fashion Department of theRoyal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp is internationally renowned in the fashion world. The academy exudes quality and Belgitude, making it the ideal match for Brussels Airlines. With this collaboration, we want to support emerging talent and offer the Belgian fashion scene a worldwide stage”
Michel Moriaux, Head of Marketing at Brussels Airlines
“Although the Antwerp fashion department is primarily focused on artistic and experimental subjects and we are overloaded with requests for collaborations year after year, we were instantly inclined to say yes to the partnership with Brussels Airlines because it is a Belgian icon. It gave the students the opportunity to discover another side of the fashion spectrum and to translate this into a concrete project. We are very proud of our promising student Gabrielle Szwarcenberg.”
Katarina Van Den Bossche, Fashion Design teacher 2nd year & coordinator of the Antwerp Fashion Department SHOW
Comfortable, modern and classy
With its new branding, launched in November last year, Brussels Airlines got a fresher look and logo, highlighting the diversity and Belgian character of the airline. Now the staff of Brussels Airlines will get to wear a uniform that emphasizes the same values.
“We listened carefully to our uniform-wearing colleagues about what they want and expect from their uniform. Their comfort is very high on the list of priorities in this process, but sustainability and inclusiveness also play an important role. We want everyone to feel good in their uniform and to be able to be themselves. We are impressed with what we have seen from Gabrielle Szwarcenberg and look forward to develop the uniform with her.”
Barbara Fleury, Uniform Coordinator at Brussels Airlines
“The fact that I was selected out of the insanely talented creatives in the Antwerp Fashion Department is already an honour, but to have been chosen the winner is mind-blowing to me. I am so thrilled to get the opportunity to completely redesign the airline aesthetic with a fresh new design perspective; and especially for such an iconic Belgian company as Brussels Airlines.”
Gabrielle Szwarcenberg, second year student at the Fashion Department of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp
In the coming months, Brussels Airlines and Gabrielle Szwarcenberg will design all the pieces of the uniform and choose a supplier to produce them. The new uniform will be presented in spring 2023.
In other news, the unions representing the pilots are threatening a strike in either late June or early July.
Brussels Airlines closes its first quarter at EUR -62 million, an improvement of 11% compared to the previous year. Traditionally the lowest performing period of the year in the aviation industry, the first quarter was still impacted by the consequences of the Covid pandemic.
Brussels Airlines’ revenue increased by EUR 102 million or 185% year-on-year to EUR 157 million in the first quarter of 2022 (previous year: EUR 55 million), thanks to a 160% increase in production (Available Seat-Kilometres). The first quarter of 2021 was highly impacted by the non-essential travel ban, which was put into place by the Belgian government, whereas the beginning of 2022 was suffering from rising COVID infection numbers caused by the Omicron variant.
Operating expenses went up by a total of EUR 97 million or 75% to EUR 227 million (previous year: EUR 130 million), principally due to higher volume and price-related increase of fuel expenses, as well as higher volume related fees and charges. The Adjusted EBIT in the reporting period amounted to EUR –62 million (previous year: EUR –70 million).
“In the first quarter we still felt the impact of the pandemic, although we were able to increase our offer by 160%. The direct impact of the Russian-Ukrainian war remained very limited for us so far, as Brussels Airlines did not have any planned operations to or over the affected region. What we do feel is the fuel price increase, although for now we are still well protected for a large part thanks to our hedging policies. We are now looking ahead to a high-demand summer as people return to travelling after the pandemic.”
- Nina Oewerdieck, Chief Financial Officer at Brussels Airlines
This year, Brussels Airlines plans to bring back its capacity to 80% of 2019 levels, thanks to the addition of two medium haul aircraft and one additional long haul aircraft, to reinforce its position in West Africa and to further strengthen its hub in Brussels. Demand is expected to be very high as the pandemic restrictions dissipate around the world.
As of July 1, 2022, Tilman Reinshagen, currently Vice President Ground Operations Hub Airlines Frankfurt, will become a member of the Brussels Airlines Executive Board as Chief Operating Officer (COO); his appointment is still subject to the approval of the SN Airholding Board of Directors; he succeeds Edi Wolfensberger, who took over the position of COO at Eurowings as of 1 April 2022.
As of July 1, 2022, Tilman Reinshagen will join the Management Board of Brussels Airlines in the role of Chief Operating Officer. He herewith takes over from Edi Wolfensberger, who is the COO of sister company Eurowings since April 1, 2022.
Tilman Reinshagen (40), currently Vice President Ground Operations Hub Airlines Frankfurt, has been chosen by the Lufthansa Group Executive Board as the new Brussels Airlines COO. He will join Brussels Airlines as of July 1st to head the operational departments of the Belgian airline (Flight Operations, Maintenance & Engineering, Ground Operations). Mr. Reinshagen’s appointment is pending the approval of the SN Airholding Board of Directors.
Making his first steps in aviation in 2003 as a passenger service agent and later as a management trainee, Tilman Reinshagen has built up an extensive experience in aviation operations, working in different companies of the Lufthansa Group. After his role as Station Manager Frankfurt for SWISS, he moved to Lufthansa as Process and Quality Manager Spain & Portugal. In 2013, he started at LSG, the aviation catering company of the Lufthansa Group, as Managing Director LSG Düsseldorf, followed by his role as Director Operations Frankfurt International.
In 2017, Tilman Reinshagen left the Lufthansa Group to join the management team at Apple, before returning to the Lufthansa Group in 2019, leading the Ground Operations of the largest Lufthansa Group station Frankfurt in his current role today.
“I am very happy that Tilman will join the Management Board of Brussels Airlines. With his vast experience inside and outside the Lufthansa Group and his strong leadership skills, I am convinced that he will successfully lead our operational teams and contribute to our readiness for future challenges.”
– Peter Gerber, Chief Executive Officer Brussels Airlines
Tilman Reinshagen’s predecessor Edi Wolfensberger left Brussels Airlines on 31 March to join sister company Eurowings. Simon Kinsey, Director of Flight Operations, has taken over the COO responsibilities and the role of Accountable Manager ad interim until July 1st.
Brussels Airlines notes a high demand for sunny destinations during the Easter holidays and expects this to only increase due to a large number of last-minute bookings. During the upcoming school holidays , the airline offers 80% of its European vacation offer compared to 2019. Across the total network, Brussels Airlines offers 75% of its 2019 capacity. It is also notable that Belgians are departing earlier and returning later than before.
Brussels Airlines is gearing up for a busy Easter vacation. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the focus is more than ever on leisure flights, as that segment rose sharply relative to business flights. The Belgian home carrier offers 85% of its 2019 leisure offer in Europe.The most popular destinations during the Easter holidays are located in the South of Europe. The top 5 is headed by Malaga, followed by Rome, Lisbon and Madrid. New to the top 5 this year is Copenhagen.On the Brussels Airlines intercontinental network, the more touristic destinations are doing well as well as the popular Kinshasa in the VFR (visit friends and relatives) segment. At the top of touristic intercontinental destinations is New York, followed by Dakar (Senegal), Douala (Cameroon) and Entebbe (Uganda). The airline will offer 82% of its 2019 long-haul capacity during the upcoming holidays.
15 destinations return to the Brussels Airlines network as of March 27: Washington in the United States and a host of popular leisure destinations in Europe, including Athens, Naples, Florence, Catania, Marrakesh, Palermo, Bari and Palma de Mallorca.
Brussels Airlines is still expecting a large number of last-minute reservations. As was the case for the carnival holidays, the airline estimates that two-thirds of passengers only book their trip in the last 6 weeks before departure. As a result, early deciders benefit from the cheapest fares relatively longer.
“In addition to the last-minute reservation trend that we have been noticing for two years, we also see that departing on Thursdays and returning on Mondays has become remarkably more popular. It seems that the “new way of working” as a result from the Pandemic has led to more flexibility for employees in managing their work-life balance”
Tom Maes, Head of Commercial Steering at Brussels Airlines
All fares at Brussels Airlines can still be rebooked, although the airline notices that there is less demand for this.
Towards the summer school holidays, Brussels Airlines also expects a high demand for leisure flights.
Top Copyright Photo: Brussels Airlines Airbus A319-111 OO-SSX (msn 2260) BLQ (Marco Finelli). Image: 957068.
COVID-19 pandemic still heavily impacted the airline’s EBIT
In line with expectations due to the Covid-19 crisis, Brussels Airlines booked a loss of EUR 189 million in the financial year 2021, an improvement of 35% versus the previous year.
Losses limited thanks to successful Reboot Plus transformation plan and strict cash management.
Revenue up by 35% to 560 million, while operating expenses were only up by 5%
Passenger numbers rose by 47% to 3.5 million.
Growth in 2022 in terms of network, fleet and people
2021 was another year marked by the Covid pandemic and a year that still required a high level of resilience. The year started with a very limited flight schedule, in line with the low market demand due to high infection rates and lockdowns all over Europe, followed by a three-month travel ban issued by the Belgian government. This travel ban heavily impacted Brussels Airlines’ first quarter.
On 19 April, the travel ban was lifted and demand started to pick up again, while the vaccination campaign was also gaining velocity. What followed was a rapid increase in demand towards the summer. Brussels Airlines restarted full hub operations in June and built up its capacity from 12% to 53% of pre-pandemic levels towards the summer. The summer demand lasted longer than other years due to the effect of postponed travel plans and the desire to travel after the lockdown. This strong and prolonged summer peak led to a positive third quarter and the first profit since the beginning of the pandemic. November came with rising infection numbers and again many restrictions, causing the demand to decrease once more. The end-of-year holiday showed a strong travel peak, before returning to a lower winter demand due to the emergence of the Omicron variant.
After the restructuring phase of the Reboot Plus plan and the numerous changes undertaken, in November 2021 Brussels Airlines presented a new branding to strengthen its Belgian identity and to mark a new start after the coronavirus crisis. The new branding was an important signal towards the market that the airline is here to stay. As additional symbol for its future-readiness the decision was taken in June 2021 to add three Airbus A320neos to the Brussels Airlines fleet in summer 2023. With these new state-of-the-art aircraft and by retiring three older A319s, Brussels Airlines takes a significant step to the further modernization of its fleet and reduces carbon and noise emissions in its medium-haul network.
In the whole of 2021, the demand on the African network was again very resilient, mainly thanks to the business and VFR segments (Visiting Friends and Relatives), while the European segment was more volatile. All in all, the full-year capacity (Available seat-kilometres) was 62% higher than in 2020 and Brussels Airlines operated 39% more flights, welcoming 3.5 million passengers (+47%).
The passenger load factor was 1.1 percentage points lower than the previous year’s level, at 67.2% (previous year: 68.3%). Yields fell by 6.9% after adjusting for exchange rates. Traffic revenue increased with the expansion of traffic by 31% to EUR 503m (previous year: EUR 384m).
Revenue rose by 35% to EUR 560m(previous year: EUR 414m). Operating income rose by 31% to EUR 599m (previous year: EUR 456m). The Reboot Pluscost savings measures and strict cost discipline limited the increase in operating costs. At EUR 788m, they were only up 5% on the previous year. Higher fuel costs (+62%) due to increased prices and volumes as well as higher fees and charges due to volumes (+55%) were partially countered by lower staff costs (–17%).
In the 2021 financial year, Adjusted EBIT at Brussels Airlines was at EUR –189m (previous year: EUR –293m). The Adjusted EBIT margin was –33.8% (previous year: –70.8%). The EBIT was also at EUR –189m (previous year: EUR –332m). The previous year’s value was adversely affected by write-downs on the fleet totalling EUR 33m.
2021 key figures
Brussels Airlines successfully completed its Reboot Plus restructuring, creating a competitive cost basis for a profitable future
Brussels Airlines intensified its restructuring programme in response to the pandemic. “Reboot Plus” forms the basis for the airline’s sustainable future. As part of the programme, Brussels Airlines completed the restructuring phase. Two Airbus A330s left the long-haul fleet, and eight A320 family aircraft were removed from the short- and medium-haul fleets. The number of employees was reduced by more than 20% compared to the pre-pandemic level. Since January 2021, new collective labour agreements have been in place with all employee groups at Brussels Airlines to enable competitive staff costs. In 2021, the transformation plan entered a new phase, the phase of improvement and investment into technologies and simplification, to gain efficiency.
“This year we focused on the second phase of Reboot Plus, the improvement phase. We have been building the New Brussels Airlines. Our rebranding was a very visible symbol hereof, while behind the scenes we invested in a new crew scheduling tool, in our renewed office space and in a multitude of projects that either bring efficiency gains or simplification in our processes. I want to thank all Brussels Airlines employees for the achievements last year. Together we are building a bright future for our company.”
– Peter Gerber, CEO Brussels Airlines
Brussels Airlines will gradually increase its capacity to reach 80% of its 2019 levels by July, reinforcing its position as the home carrier of Belgium with a strong focus on leisure and reinforcing its position in Africa thanks to the 9th aircraft. For the entire year, the airline plans to operate 74% of its 2019 capacity levels.
“We have had some difficult winter months due to the Omicron wave, but we see a promising spring and summer in terms of demand. As travel regulations will dissipate and measures will be eased all around Europe, we foresee a return to 80% capacity of our pre-pandemic levels in the summer holidays. Cost-consciousness remains part of our DNA in order to reach structural profitability. In that respect, our plans remain unchanged: we aim for a black zero in 2022 and we remain committed to reaching 8% EBIT in 2024, under unchanged circumstances. Thanks to the successful implementation of our Reboot Plus plan, we have created the right foundation to grow and to look ahead to a profitable future.”
Brussels Airlines strengthens its market position in West Africa
In November 2021, it was decided to expand the long-haul fleet of Brussels Airlines with a ninth A330. With the additional capacity, Brussels Airlines will restart its route to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, and Conakry, Guinea, and increase the frequencies of its existing West African routes in 2022.
More growth was announced this week for 2022, as two aircraft will reinforce the summer operations at Brussels Airlines, allowing Brussels Airlines to reinforce its position as Belgium’s home carrier. To fuel this growth, Brussels Airlines announced earlier that it is hiring 288 people in all departments of the company.
In other news, Brussels Airlines has decided to add two aircraft to its medium haul fleet this summer season. This growth comes earlier than foreseen in its transformation plan (and state loan agreement) as it sees an opportunity in the increasing demand for summer. With one extra Airbus 319 and one extra A320, Brussels Airlines wants to cater to the high demand for leisure travel and defend its position in the market as Belgium’s home carrier.
On the European network, Brussels Airlines noted a significant increase in leisure demand for summer: 75% more requests from tour operators, 140% more requests for charter business compared to 2020, and the expectation that this touristic demand will even further increase leading up to the summer.
Within the scope of Reboot Plus, Brussels Airlines rightsized its short- and medium haul fleet from 42 aircraft in 2019 to 30 in 2020. With especially touristic markets recovering quicker than initially forecasted, the airline decided to expand its capacity to reap this additional summer demand: The lease of one A319 will therefore be extended to October 2022 and the phase in of one A320 will be advanced to June 2022 in order to offer 80% of the 2019 summer production.
“We see clear signals that this crisis is slowly but surely coming to an end. The leisure segment in the market recovered more quickly than originally expected and we also see a slow but steady increase in the demand for corporate travel. By 2024 we should again reach the level of 2019 if it comes to the demand in the business travel segment. This is definitely the right time to increase our market share and once again confirm our position as Belgium’s home carrier.”
Peter Gerber, CEO Brussels Airlines
This fleet expansion will give the company’s pilots, who currently have a parttime contract as was foreseen in its transformation plan in 2020 in order to keep all pilots on board, the possibility to return to a full-time working regime two years earlier than foreseen. On the cabin crew side, recruitments are ongoing. As it was promised in 2020, Brussels Airlines first contacted its ex-colleagues who did not see their contract prolonged that year due to the pandemic and the Reboot Plus program. 135 out of the 165 colleagues who were asked to return have accepted to work again for Brussels Airlines.
In December, Brussels Airlines already announced growth on its intercontinental sector, especially in Africa, thanks to a 9th A330 aircraft. This additional plane allows Brussels Airlines to increase frequencies to several of its destinations in Sub Sahara Africa and to resume its flights to Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) and Conakry (Guinée), which were discontinued in 2020.
This coming summer season, starting on March 27, 2022, Brussels Airlines will offer 85 destinations, with a focus on leisure.
Newcomers in the airline’s summer portfolio compared to last year are Arecife (Lanzarote), Chania (Crete), Hurghada (Egypt), Mytilene (Lesbos), Samos, Marrakesh ( Morocco), Rabat (Morocco) and Munich.
After a winter which was still heavily impacted by the global pandemic, Brussels Airlines predicts a very busy summer season.
“The booking figures clearly show a great willingness to travel. Compared to the summer of 2021, we also see that passengers start to book longer in advance again, especially for the school holiday periods. Spain, Portugal, Italy and the Greek Islands are expected to be the most popular destinations this summer season. That’s why we are happy to add the islands Lesbos and Samos in Greece to our network, but also Lanzarote and Crete will be an added value in our vacation portfolio.”
Jan Derycke, Head of Network and Planning Brussels Airlines66 Medium haul destinations with focus on leisure travel
With a broad range of popular holiday destinations, the Belgian company wants to provide its customers a positive outlook for the coming summer. On top of the year-round destinations like Alicante, Madrid, Lisbon, Milano, Rome and many more, the airline relaunches a series of summer holiday destinations:
In Greece, Athens and Greek islands Crete (Heraklion and Chania), Cos, Rhodes, Corfu, Zakynthos, Lesbos and Samos will again be connected to Brussels. In Italy the airline will land again in Bari, Catania, Florence, Napoli, Olbia and Palermo. Spanish leisure routes Ibiza and Palma de Mallorca will join the network while flights to the Canary islands Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Lanzarote will be continued from the winter season. Brussels Airlines will also start flying to Croatian destinations Dubrovnik and Split again as well as to Russian destinations Moscow and Saint-Petersburg. The Egyptian destination Hurghada will be continued after winter and also Marrakesh in Morocco will join the summer schedule. During the peak season, Moroccan destinations Tangier, Rabat and Nador will be connected to Brussels too.
19 long haul destinations with the restart of Washington
On the intercontinental network, Brussels Airlines will reopen Conakry (Guinea) and Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) in Africa and will resume flights to Washington D.C. during the summer season. In total, the Belgian airline offers 19 long haul destinations, including 17 in Sub Sahara Africa and 2 in the US (New York and Washington).
New route Brussels – Munich
For the first time, Brussels Airlines will operate flights between Brussels and Munich. The Belgian airline will operate two flights a day, while Lufthansa continues to operate 5 daily frequencies. The first Brussels Airlines flight to Munich will take off on March 27, 2022.