Rackham, still one of the most photographed planes in the world, will be part of the Brussels Airlines fleet until 2026. As Rackham reached its repainting deadline, Moulinsart and Brussels Airlines agreed to prolong their partnership and restore the aircraft painting in its original state, meaning that Rackham will stay in the airline’s fleet for at least five more years.
While the painting on the outside remains almost identical, the interior of the aircraft has been upgraded with more Tintin illustrations by the hand of Hergé.
Brussels Airlines sees an increase in the demand for winter-sun destinations from both individual passengers and travel agents.
As of 30 September Brussels Airlines adds Marrakech to its flight offer.
As from 31 October also flights to winter-sun destinations Lanzarote & Hurghada.
Additional flights to Tenerife and Gran Canaria during school holidays.
In the aftermath of a rainy summer in Belgium, during which the flights to vacation destinations in Southern Europe were particularly successful, Brussels Airlines notices that also in the coming months there is a demand for holiday destinations in the sun. The airline wants to meet this demand with extra flights to winter-sun destinations.
As from 30 September, Marrakech will for the first time be part of Brussels Airlines’ offer. The Moroccan city will be connected twice a week with flights on Thursdays and Sundays. Thanks to the low chance of precipitation, this city with its wide variety of cultures is the ideal destination for either a weekend or a longer vacation in the sun.
For the first time since March 2020, Hurghada is again part of the Brussels Airlines network. As from October 31, 2021, the Red Sea resort will be served three times a week (Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday).
With the addition of Lanzarote as from October 31, Brussels Airlines strengthens its presence on the Canary Islands, where it will also fly to Tenerife and Gran Canaria this winter. To these last two destinations additional frequencies are added during the Belgian school holidays. With flights on Thursdays and Saturdays, Lanzarote is the ideal destination for both short and longer winter vacations in the sun.
Brussels Airlines issued this financial report for the first half of 2021:
As a result of the coronavirus pandemic and its ongoing and unprecedented impact on the aviation sector, Brussels Airlines reports a negative EBIT of -143 million euros in the first semester of 2021. The non-essential travel ban in the first quarter and continuous travel restrictions severely impacted the airline’s passenger numbers. First half-year revenues fell 45% below the prior-year level, to 138 million euros (H1 2020: 252 million euros). Compared to the previous year, Brussels Airlines transported 57% fewer passengers between January and June. The seat load factor dropped by 11.7 percentage points to 60.7%.
The coronavirus continues to impact the financial results of the entire aviation industry dramatically and, as a consequence, also Brussels Airlines. A non-essential travel ban in the first quarter of the year, followed by continuous strict travel restrictions, severely impacted passenger numbers. The Belgian airline transported 57% fewer passengers in the first half-year compared to the same period last year.
As a result, revenue at Brussels Airlines fell year-on-year by 45% to 138 million euros in the first semester of 2021 (H1 2020: 252 million euros). The operating income of 147 million euros was 48% lower than the year before (lH1 2020: 281 million euros). The COVID-19 crisis forced Brussels Airlines – after a good start into the year – to suspend its operation almost entirely for the period between mid-March and mid-June 2020. Since then, the production level is significantly lower and not yet back on pre-crisis levels.
In the first half-year of 2021, operating expenses fell by 37% to 290 million euros, primarily due to the volume-related decline in the cost of materials and services (H1 2020: 463 million euros). Brussels Airlines has reduced expenses significantly thanks to its turnaround program, Reboot Plus, of which the restructuring phase is almost completed. However, remaining fixed costs continue to put pressure on the operating expenses.
Accordingly, the airline reports an EBIT of -143 million euros and an adjusted EBIT of -143 million euros for the first six months of this year. Compared to the previous year, the EBIT decreased from -211 million euros (H1 2020) and the adjusted EBIT from -182 million euros (H1 2020). Last year’s EBIT figure was impacted by a reduction of 29 million euros due to impairment losses on aircraft and rights-of-use for aircraft.
Due to the non-essential travel ban and the strict and continuously changing travel restrictions, the number of operated flights and passenger figures decreased even further. Compared to the first semester of 2020, which included a temporary suspension of all flights from March 21 to June 14, 2020, Brussels Airlines operated 55% fewer flights (6,295 flights compared to 14,114). The number of passengers transported dropped from 1,590,448 in the first semester of 2020 to 676,372 for the first half of 2021. As to the seat load factor, the latter went down from 72.4% to 60.7% in the first six months of 2021.
Brussels Airlines’ turnaround program Reboot Plus consists of two phases: the restructuring and transformation phases. As the restructuring phase, which aims to reduce the fleet size by 30% and the workforce by 25%, is almost completed, Brussels Airlines is looking forward to investing in a sustainable and structurally profitable future. In that future, the reduction of the airline’s ecological footprint has a prominent place. On June 29, the Lufthansa Group Executive Board and the Board of Directors of SN Airholding have authorized the allocation of three Airbus A320neo aircraft to Brussels Airlines, which will leave the Airbus factory by summer 2023. These state-of-the-art aircraft, with significantly lower CO2 and noise emissions, will replace three older A319 aircraft. Modernizing the fleet is crucial to reaching the ambitious target of reducing the CO2 footprint by 50% by 2030 (compared to 2019 levels).
Due to the still volatile and highly unpredictable situation worldwide caused by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, it is not possible to make forecasts for 2021 as a whole.
On June 29, the Lufthansa Group Executive Board and the Board of Directors of SN Airholding have authorized the allocation of three Airbus A320neo to Brussels Airlines.
With these new state-of-the-art aircraft, Belgium’s home carrier makes an essential step in the further modernization of the airline’s fleet and herewith significantly lowers the CO2- and noise-emissions on its medium-haul network. It’s the very first time in the history of Brussels Airlines, that the company will phase in brand new aircraft, coming right from the manufacturer.
Investing in the current crisis in new aircraft, underlines the importance for the Lufthansa Group carriers to continue working towards the group’s sustainability target of reducing its CO2 emissions by 50% by 2030 compared to 2019 and to become CO2-neutral by 2050.
In comparison to the to be phased out A319 aircraft, the Airbus A320neo burns in average 11% less fuel and reduces noise emissions by 50%. Thanks to a significantly higher seating capacity (+27%), the fuel use per seat reduces by 30%. Compared to an A320ceo (current engine option), the brand new model uses 16% less fuel for the same seating capacity and thus reduces the CO2 emissions by 16%.
Brussels Airlines counts currently 38 aircraft in its overall fleet, of which eight long-haul aircraft of the type Airbus A330 and 30 medium-haul aircraft (16 A320 and 14 A319).
Brussels Airlines sees a strong increase in the number of incoming bookings. Ever since the lifting of the travel ban for Belgians on 19 April, the airline has noticed a positive trend. However, the past few weeks the increase in bookings grows even stronger. Thanks to the vaccination programs that are running at full speed, the implementation of the digital green certificate and the evolving of the travel restrictions, the airline has recorded weekly increases of 30% to 50%, each time compared to the previous week. Holiday destinations in the south of Europe are performing particularly well at the moment.
“We are still in a difficult period and also the coming months will be very challenging, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. We see an eagerness to travel and it is clear that many people do not want to postpone their long-awaited trip abroad with another year. Since mid-April, the booking figures have been showing us that many passengers are entrusting us with their travel once again. With 40% more reservations than the previous week, we saw a spike in bookings over the past seven days. The positive trends we see make us confident towards the future.”
Peter Gerber, Chief Commercial Officer at Brussels Airlines
This summer, the Belgian airline expects to offer 70% of the capacity it operated in 2019, being 60% for the short- and medium-distance network and 77% for the long-distance network. For the months of July and August, Brussels Airlines is preparing to welcome over one million passengers, although that figure remains difficult to predict due to the fact that many passengers are still booking last-minute. During the same months last year, the company welcomed roughly 390,000 passengers.
Top destinations this summer are situated in the south of Europe, to which Brussels Airlines is adding 150 extra flights following the high demand. The most popular countries are Spain (Malaga, Alicante, Barcelona, Valencia, the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands), Portugal (Faro, Lisbon and Porto), Greece (Athens, Kos, Rhodes, Heraklion, Corfu and Zakynthos) and Italy (Florence, Naples, Sicily, Sardinia and the new destination Bari). Also on the list of popular destinations are Croatia (Dubrovnik and Split) and France (Nice, Marseille, Lyon, Toulouse and new destination Bordeaux).
The brand new destinations Tangier and Nador, offered by Brussels Airlines in partnership with ML Tours, are also doing well. So well in fact, that the number of scheduled flights to these destinations has now doubled: 4 flights a week as opposed to the originally scheduled 2 flights.
Earlier this week, Brussels Airlines relaunched its flights to the United States after a hibernation period of almost 15 months. The flights to New York and Washington D.C. on June 14 and 15 respectively were the first trans-Atlantic flights of Brussels Airlines since March 2020 and an important symbolic milestone for the airline. The Belgian carrier is now hoping for rapid easing of the currently applicable travel restrictions between the two continents to make travelling easy and accessible to everyone again.
As a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, Brussels Airlines reported an adjusted EBIT of EUR -70 million for the first quarter, only a 9% decrease compared to the same period last year, which included January and February 2020, two “normal” months before the Coronavirus reached Europe. The first quarter is traditionally the lowest performing one of the year in the aviation industry. The Belgian airline’s revenue fell by 76% year-on-year to EUR 55 million, while operating costs were brought down by 59% to EUR 130 million, in part due to lower production, but also thanks to cost-saving measures in its Reboot Plus program.
Between January and March, Brussels Airlines welcomed 192,000 passengers, a drop of 88% compared to the first quarter of 2020, when two out of the three months were “normal” months without the impact of Covid-19. The airline operated 1,791 flights, also an 87% decrease. The average seat load factor fell by 15.3 percentage points to 58.2%.
The ban on non-essential travel issued by the Belgian government severely impacted both the Brussels Airlines’ medium-haul- and long-haul passenger numbers. The intercontinental traffic performed however better than the European operations due to the company’s focus on African routes with a stable demand in the VFR segment (Visiting Friends & Relatives) and at the level of cargo, especially in terms of medical supply transport.
Brussels Airlines’ revenue fell by 76% year-on-year to EUR 55 million in the first quarter of 2021 as a result of the Corona crisis, while operating revenue was 76% lower year-on-year at EUR 60 million.
Operating expenses decreased by 59% to EUR 130 million primarily due to the volume-related drop in material expenses. Despite a large proportion of fixed costs, cost reductions were made thanks to a near completion of the restructuring phase of the Reboot Plus program.
Brussels Airlines’ Adjusted EBIT decreased accordingly by 9% to EUR -70 million (previous year: EUR -64 million). The EBIT improved by 25% to likewise EUR -70 million (previous year: EUR -93 million), although the previous year’s figure was impacted by impairment losses on aircraft and rights-of-use of aircraft amounting to EUR 29 million.
Within its Reboot Plus transformation program Brussels Airlines has almost completed the restructuring phase which reduces the fleet size by 30% and staff numbers by 25%. Among other additional measures in this program, new collective labor agreements have been in force since January 2021 for all employee groups, generating a competitive cost structure at the level of the personnel costs. The Reboot Plus program, targeting a structural 8% EBIT margin by 2024, now enters a second phase, a phase of strategic investment in customer servicing, in efficiency, employee development and in tools in order to create a long-term profitable future for the company.
Since the beginning of the Coronavirus crisis, Brussels Airlines has strictly adapted its flight capacity to respond as closely as possible to the market demand in order to safeguard its cash position. Thanks to this very proactive and restrictive capacity management, Brussels Airlines was able to maintain cash-positive flight operations every week since its restart on 15 June 2020.
Currently Brussels Airlines is gradually building up its flight capacity to be able to provide a flight offer in line with the expected demand for the summer holiday season (on average 65% of its 2019 capacity), with a focus on the leisure segment and of course its large African offer.
Top Copyright Photo: Brussels Airlines Airbus A320-214 OO-SNB (msn 1493) (We fly you to the home of Tintin) BRU (Ton Jochems). Image: 943968.
With travel restrictions evolving and vaccination programs underway, the demand for air travel is slowly picking up. Brussels Airlines has redesigned its network to meet this demand, especially for holiday destinations. Next to the reopening of its leisure destinations, Brussels Airlines also launches flights to Bordeaux in France and Tangier, Nador and Al Hoceima in Morocco. With the opening of these new destinations, the airline emphasizes its important position on the leisure and VFR (Visit Friends and Relatives) market.
Over the past six months, the airline operated a network that focused on essential travel, mainly with flights to and from Africa. Today the airline gives its leisure customers a positive outlook on the summer, together with partners and tour operators. Over the coming months, the airline expects an increase in demand for air travel during the summer holidays. On top of the destinations the airline offers today, following destinations will join the network in the coming months:
Opening in May 2021:
Austria: Vienna Greece: Heraklion, Kos, Rhodes
Israel: Tel Aviv Italy: Bologna, Napoli, Rome
Scotland: Edinburgh Slovenia: Ljubljana
Spain: Bilbao, Ibiza, Palma de Mallorca, Valencia
Opening in June 2021:
Angola: Luanda Armenia: Yerevan
Czech Republic: Prague Croatia: Dubrovnik, Split
England: Birmingham France: Bordeaux
Greece: Corfu, Zakynthos Hungary: Budapest
Italy: Bari, Catania, Florence, Milan Linate, Palermo
Lithuania: Vilnius Morocco: Nador, Tangier
Norway: Oslo Poland: Krakow, Warsaw
Russia: Moscow Sheremetyevo, Saint Petersburg
United States: New York, Washington D.C.
Opening in July 2021:
Italy: Olbia (Sardinia)
Opening in August 2021:
Germany: Frankfurt (new destination)
Opening in September 2021:
New destinations: Bordeaux, Tangier, Nador and Al Hoceima
In addition to the reopening of a large part of its network, Brussels Airlines is also thrilled to add four destination to its portfolio: Bordeaux in France and Al Hoceima, Tangier and Nador in Morocco. These last three destinations will be offered in cooperation with ML Tours. The first flight to Bordeaux will take off on June 20, with two weekly flights on Fridays and Sundays. Nador and Tangier will join the network as of June 26 and 27 respectively. Nador will be connected with Brussels Airport twice a week on Tuesdays and Saturdays, while flights to Tangier will be operated every Wednesday and Sunday. Flights to Al Hoceima will exclusively be bookable through ML Tours.
Next to Bordeaux, Tangier, Nador and Al Hoceima, also Frankfurt joins the Brussels Airlines network for the first time, as the airline announced on February 24th. The first flight from Brussels to Frankfurt will take off on August 2nd.
Africa and North Atlantic
Washington DC and New York are planned to be operated as of June 14. These will be the first North-Atlantic flights of Brussels Airlines since March 21st, 2020. Montreal is planned to join the network on June 15, but given the current travel restrictions in Canada these plans might still alter.
As for the African network, Brussels Airlines gradually increases its flight frequencies to all its African destinations as of mid June, when West African destinations Abidjan (Ivory Coast), Accra (Ghana), Banjul (Gambia) and Dakar (Senegal) are planned to be offered on a daily basis. In Central and East Africa Douala and Yaounde (both in Cameroon), Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Congo) and Entebbe (Uganda) are also foreseen to be served daily. Luanda joins the network again after more than a year. As of June 15, the Angolan city will be served three times weekly.
Top Copyright Photo: Brussels Airlines Airbus A330-223 OO-SFT (msn 291) IAD (Brian McDonough). Image: 953397.
In tough times, tough people rise and transcend. The past year, so many people rolled up their sleeves and went above and beyond to help others. Now Brussels Airlines thinks it is time to thank those everyday heroes, as heroes deserve a vacation too. Therefore, Brussels Airlines calls on everyone to share the story of their own hero. The Belgian airline will then thank 250 of those big and little heroes with a voucher worth €250 for a flight of their choice. Brussels Airlines got inspired for the campaign by its own staff, after many of the company’s employees began volunteering during their temporary technical unemployment.
On its social media channels, Brussels Airlines puts two of its own corona heroes in the spotlight: Dominique Jacobs, a volunteer in a residential care center and with Nicola Bové, who is committed to neglected animals. The coronavirus pandemic caused a historically low market demand for air travel last year, resulting in temporary technical unemployment for staff. Soon, the company noticed a great drive among its staff to roll up their sleeves elsewhere, ranging from crisis volunteer at the Belgian Red Cross, steward at a vaccination or testing center, to teaching online language classes to children and adults at home and abroad.
With vaccination programs underway in many countries and demand for travel slowly starting to pick up for summer offering perspectives for the travel sector, Brussels Airlines wants to thank 250 corona heroes with this symbolic action, giving them a voucher worth €250 for a flight of their choice, on a date of your choice. The airline is looking for positive stories from the past year. Whether it is someone who made a difference in the framework of a profession, someone who spent time volunteering or a friendly neighbor who helped with the grocery shopping; all stories are welcome and everyone can nominate a corona hero via brusselsairlines.com regardless of the function or heroic deed of the person.
As it is currently not easy for many people to plan a trip, Brussels Airlines continues to focus on its great flexibility. The voucher can be used until December 31, 2021. Tickets booked until 31 May can be rebooked free of charge for a later date and/or another destination. Participation in the contest is possible until May 3, 2021, winners will be contacted at the end of May.
With vaccination programs underway in many countries and demand for travel slowly starting to pick up for summer Brussels Airlines prepares its operations for a gradual build up of its flight offer.
At an airline, such a buildup does not happen overnight and it takes several months to prepare. We not only need to get our planes ready to hit the skies again, but we also need to get our cabin and cockpit crew and our Ground Operations colleagues back up to speed and fully trained after a period of inactivity.
Training our pilots, crew and ground staff
In aviation, nothing is left to chance and safety is at all times the highest priority. Therefore, our Training department worked out a very thorough and intensive training program to make sure we fully prepare our pilots to take off again. The first group started their training at the beginning of April. For each pilot, the program takes approximately one month to complete and includes 14 hours of theoretical training, including self-study and classroom trainings to review all flight and aircraft procedures, 12 hours of simulator and 10 to 20 flights with an instructor, depending on the experience of the pilot. Last but not least, every pilot performs a line check before they are released to fly on their own again. In total 150 pilots need to go through this complete training and we expect to finish the training program by summer. Our 400 other pilots have continuously been trained during the past months.
As for our cabin crew, as of 1 May, 130 cabin colleagues who have been in full temporary unemployment will gradually be retrained for flying duties with seven to ten days of refresher courses, depending on the type of flights they operate (short haul or long haul), and several familiarization flights to have all safety procedures and Corona-related hygiene measures fresh in mind when they welcome our passengers on board again.
Also on the ground, we prepare our airport colleagues for their duties. They get refresher courses and work in pairs with colleagues on their first day back on the job so they are ready to welcome our guests again.
Getting our aircraft ready
Today, 21 of our 38 aircraft are operational. In order to increase our flight offer, we of course also need to get more and more aircraft back in the air to prepare for summer.
As aircraft are made to fly, not to stand on the ground, we have kept busy meticulously maintaining our birds while they were inactive, in order to keep them in great shape once we could reactivate them. To reactivate an aircraft after such a long period (some have been parked since March 2020), our Maintenance teams go through thorough procedures, checking every nook and cranny of the fuselage and moving parts, checking every valve and tube, and test-running all electronic systems. They test the engines, replace life vests and other safety equipment if they are expired, and getting the cabin ready with a thorough cleaning. Finally, they run a test flight to give the aircraft a final GO for operations. The entire de-storage process takes approximately 200 man hours per aircraft.
Welcoming more passengers means that it is important to emphasize that we continue to apply the same Corona measures as before. These include a mandatory face mask during the entire flight (as of arrival at the airport) for every passenger as of six years old, row by row boarding and de-boarding to avoid queues in the aircraft, extra disinfection of the aircraft and of course proper hand hygiene. All our aircraft are equipped with HEPA filters that continuously supply clean air on board. See the complete overview or our measures here.
As usual, we ask passengers who feel unwell not to travel, to protect the health of other passengers and our crew. As many countries still have specific restrictions, we ask our passengers to check the requirements before they travel.
Above Copyright Photo: Brussels Airlines Airbus A320-214 OO-SNE (msn 4243) (Pieter Bruegel – we fly you to home of Bruegel) LHR (Tony Storck). Image: 947177.
Brussels Airlines closes 2020 with an Adjusted EBIT of EUR -293 million:
In line with expectations due to the Covid-19 crisis, Brussels Airlines booked a loss of EUR 293 million in the financial year 2020.
Losses and cash-out limited by stringent cost-saving and cash management measures.
Revenue down by 72% to 414 EUR million and operating expenses decreased by 53%, mainly due to lower production.
Passenger numbers decreased by 77% to 2.4 million.
Transformation plan Reboot was intensified and accelerated to counteract the impact of the crisis and lay the basis for profitability by 2023.
2021 foresees a gradual capacity build-up, but will remain a challenging year. Summer season is essential.
2020 was an unprecedented year for the airline industry, including for Brussels Airlines. With a restructuring plan already ongoing at the beginning of 2020, Brussels Airlines was off to a good start in January and February, when suddenly demand began to crumble fast as the Coronavirus found its way to Europe. The second quarter was marked by a worldwide lockdown, when at the end of March Brussels Airlines decided to ground its fleet during 12 weeks, with only repatriation and cargo flights still operating. On 15 June, the airline resumed a reduced flight schedule, with very tight steering and a very flexible capacity management, in order to guarantee cash positive operations and preserve its cash position from further deterioration. Every week so far since the restart in June, Brussels Airlines succeeded to obtain cash-positive operations, i.e. covering all flight related cash-outs with respective revenues. Nevertheless, fixed costs such as aircraft loans, personnel expenses, rent etc. still remain and are not covered by the current low level of flying.
Summer 2020 showed a promising resumption of traffic with strong demand on the European leisure network, as well as on the African network. However, a second wave of Covid-19 slowed down demand again after summer. As a result of the restrictive travel regulations worldwide and to meet the cash-positive flying target, the capacity decreased further in October and November and reached a level of -78% vs the same period in 2019. As demand remained much more stable on the African segment than on the European sector, the airline shifted its focus toward its African portfolio, in combination with its European feeder flights for the rest of the winter season. Around the end of year holiday period another peak in demand was recorded on the European leisure segment and on the African network. The full year capacity was severely impacted by the crisis, with 74% less flights compared to the previous year.
Brussels Airlines’ revenue fell by 72% to EUR 414 million (previous year: EUR 1,473 million) as a result of the Coronavirus crisis. Operating revenue was 71% below the previous year’s level at EUR 456 million (previous year: EUR 1,555 million).
Brussels Airlines’ Adjusted EBIT fell to EUR -293 million in the 2020 financial year (previous year: EUR -27 million – IFRS standard). The Adjusted EBIT margin decreased by 69.0 percentage points to -70.8% (previous year: -1.8%). EBIT decreased to EUR -332 million (previous year: EUR -32 million). The difference compared with Adjusted EBIT was mainly due to impairment losses on rights of use for aircraft amounting to EUR 33 million.
With 2.4 million passengers, Brussels Airlines carried 77% fewer passengers in the reporting year than in the previous year (previous year: 10.3 million). Capacity had to be reduced by 71% and sales fell by 75%. At 68.3%, the seat load factor was 13.2 percentage points lower than in the previous year (81.5%). Average yields increased by 1.0% after adjusting for foreign exchange effects. Traffic revenue fell by 72% to EUR 384 million (previous year: EUR 1,386 million).
Since 1 March, Peter Gerber is the new CEO of Brussels Airlines. Next to his role as CEO and CCO of Brussels Airlines, Peter Gerber also acts as the Lufthansa Group Chief Representative for European Affairs. His focus will be on guaranteeing continuity at the airline, further implementing the Reboot Plus plan to create a profitable future for the company and steering the airline through the crisis in a sustainable manner.
„2020 confronted Brussels Airlines and the entire aviation industry with the largest crisis in its history. I want to thank everyone involved for their support during this difficult time: employees, partners and our customers. Rapidly changing travel restrictions and hygiene measures along with unprecedented drops in demand and production formed great challenges for everyone at Brussels Airlines. Since the beginning of the crisis, our employees have shown incredible resilience, even throughout the large-scale temporary unemployment still ongoing today in the company. I intend to foster the passionate spirit at Brussels Airlines to continue to turn the company into profitability.”
Peter Gerber, CEO Brussels Airlines
Reboot Plus lays the foundation for a profitable future
In order to respond to the crisis and the expectation of a slow recovery of the demand, as well as to lay the basis for a resilient and sustainable company after the crisis, Brussels Airlines intensified and accelerated its Reboot transformation plan, reducing its fleet by 25% and its workforce by 20%, thanks to the financial support of Lufthansa (EUR 170 million cash injection, of which 70 million for the restructuring). As part of the fleet adjustment, the usage rights of two Airbus A330-200s and eight Airbus A319s were written off. Thanks to an agreement with its social partners, the airline was able to keep 80% of its workforce on board. Through alternative measures to voluntarily leave the company forced dismissals were kept to a minimum. 18% of the 20% workforce reduction is in place today and all agreements have been reached to reduce the fleet. In addition, new collective labour agreements were negotiated with all employee groups. Furthermore, a government loan of EUR 290 million to overcome the crisis was granted by the Belgian government, from which Brussels Airlines has withdrawn a first slice in December and a second one in February.
“In 2020, the focus of the Reboot Plus plan was on the restructuring. In 2021, the second phase of the plan starts, i.e. the improvement phase. Indeed, the transformation plan does not only focus on cost cutting, but also on changing our way of working and on strategic investments, like digitization projects – e.g. new booking platform, digitization at ground operations,… Within our transformation towards a profitable future, we also want to continue more than ever our efforts at the level of sustainability, like fleet rejuvenation, CO2 reduction and waste reduction.” Peter Gerber, CEO Brussels Airlines
Brussels Airlines currently plans to gradually increase its capacity towards summer, reinforcing its position as the home carrier of Belgium with a strong focus on leisure and its Africa network. However, flexibility remains key as the crisis remains very unpredictable and the travel restrictions have thoroughly changed the booking pattern of customers, shifting towards very last minute bookings. For the entire year, the airline plans to operate almost double the capacity it operated in 2020.
„Although we have a limited view on the demand recovery due to the very last minute booking behaviour of the market during the crisis, we are hopeful that 2021 will see a gradual positive trend in demand as soon as the vaccination programme advances on a larger scale and travel restrictions are gradually lifted. A reliable testing and vaccination strategy remains essential for a recovery for the whole aviation and tourism industry. It is therefore of utmost importance that the Belgian government takes into account the aviation industry in its economic relaunch plan. It is key to us to offer perspective to our employees. The summer season will prove to be very important and we remain cautious, as this year will remain very difficult. We will continue to focus on our very strict cash and cost management, including cash-positive flying, temporary unemployment and very limited cash-outs, as well as on implementing our Reboot Plus plan to meet our business plan and create a profitable future.” Nina Öwerdieck, Chief Financial Officer Brussels Airlines