Brussels Airlines to cancel destinations, shrink fleet and scrap jobs

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Brussels Airlines will shrink to become a more profitable airline in the next three years. An unknown number of jobs is at risk, but the intention is that job losses be absorbed by voluntary departures. Some destinations might also be cancelled.

It has been known for some time that Brussels Airlines is working on a future plan, called “Reboot”. This should enable the company to become sufficiently profitable by 2022, with a profit margin of at least 8 percent, to be able to reinvest in the fleet, in innovation and in jobs. Indeed, the average profit margin is currently around 0 percent and for an airline that is not a healthy situation.

However, the situation should improve, now that Brussels Airlines has been separated from the loss-making Lufthansa low-cost subsidiary Eurowings.

Today, for the first time, management clearly conveyed the message that the airline will become smaller in the coming years. “The intention is to evolve into a leaner company that makes more profit, and then grow again,” the unions said after a meeting with the management.

The concrete impact of the plan, which will run until 2022, is not yet clear. The management is still in the process of defining the network on which it wants to fall back. On that basis, it will become clear how many aircraft and employees are needed for this.

It is already clear that there will be no collective dismissal, according to the trade unions. Work is being done on a plan for voluntary departure. Staff members who see their job threatened or disappear can join a project in which they are helped to find another job through intensive guidance and coaching. Brussels Airlines will also provide extra financial support to these staff members so that they would soon receive almost 40% more than can be expected from a traditional social plan, according to television channel VRT.

The support and administrative services on the ground, in particular, would be affected by job losses. The idea is to achieve more synergies with Lufthansa: some commercial operations could be transferred to Germany.

But the management also looks at the network and fleet. Destinations that are not profitable may be scrapped and certain destinations may be flown less frequently in the future. That will, therefore, have consequences for the flight crews.

Brussels Airlines currently employs 4,000 people and indirectly supports 40,000 jobs at suppliers.

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