The 100% take-over of Brussels Airlines by the Lufthansa group and its gradual integration into Eurowings by 2018 is not good news, according to economist, lawyer and professor at the Catholic University of Louvain (UCL) Robert Wtterwulghe in an interview to Belgian financial newspaper L’Echo. Wtterwulghe said he was more optimistic about this operation before knowing the details, released last Thursday in a joint press conference of Lufthansa (represented by its CEO Carsten Spohr) and Brussels Airlines (represented by its Chairman Viscount Etienne Davignon and its CEO Bernard Gustin). Very few questions were asked during that press conference, and none about important issues, as if the communication had been strictly controlled.
“We lose at every level,” he summed up, amazed that Brussels Airlines did not enjoy the same status as Austrian Airlines or SWISS International Airlines, which are also members of the Lufthansa Group, but have been able to keep their brand name unchanged.
The economist believes that the message delivered last Thursday is not clear. “We were initially given positive information with the successful conclusion of the purchase of 100% of the shares, followed by the negative part with the integration into Eurowings.” This integration into the subsidiary of Lufthansa will harm the Belgian company, he predicted, echoing its reputation for low-cost. “The brand image of Brussels Airlines – in Africa in particular – which is good and synonymous with high-end, is likely to suffer. This operation will remove all its specificity.”
“Did the Germans really analyse the scope of a possible change of name?” he wonders. According to the professor at UCL, Brussels Airlines will disappear in a larger entity, where the risk of dilution is high. “The Belgian shareholders lost: they wanted a national company and it will soon be no longer.”