In Belgian newspaper La Libre Belgique, Raphaël Meulders says on Sunday that Count Etienne Davignon, 87, a historical figure of Brussels Airlines, will no longer be part of the new Board of Directors of the company.
“I finished my mission, after having created the company and having saved it twice“, Davignon said to Meulders.
In early 2002, Davignon, together with Maurice Lippens, looked at a way to re-create a Belgian flag carrier after the bankruptcy of Sabena in November 2001. The two men convinced several institutional and industrial Belgian investors to put capital in a company called SN Airholding, the parent of a new airline to be named SN Brussels Airlines with the aircraft of the regional Sabena subsidiary DAT (the SN in the name reminding of Sabena and allowing to keep a stylised “S” on the tail of the aircraft). Etienne Davignon chaired the Board of SN Airholding until April this year.
In 2005, the airline merged with low-cost Virgin Express to become simply Brussels Airlines. Later, through two different operations, the German group Lufthansa acquired first 45% and later 100% of the Belgian holding company, but Davignon remained Chairman of the Board. In April this year, however, he relinquished the Chair to Jan Smets, former Governor of the National Bank of Belgium, while keeping a seat on the Board.
In the rescue plan concluded with the parent company Lufthansa to save Brussel Airlines after the Covid-19 crisis, the Belgian state will get two Directors on the Board of the company. This is probably why Davignon steps aside.