This morning, Monday 12 March, an extraordinary works council took place at the headquarters of Brussels Airlines in the presence of the CEO of Eurowings, Thorsten Dirks. The latter wanted to explain the development plans of his company, in which Brussels Airlines has been integrated.
After the meeting, the representatives of the trade unions were not very happy, nor reassured.
The CEO of Eurowings was to present to them his progress towards greater integration of the Belgian airline into the Eurowings group since their last meeting one month ago. “All this was vague and we did not learn much more,” the trade unions said. No major changes for staff are expected before the 2019 summer season, it seems.
According to the boss of Eurowings, Brussels Airlines’ European, North American and Asian networks are currently not profitable, unlike long-haul flights to Africa. “But he repeated that his goal was growth (from 190 to 300 aircraft in 2020, ed.) and that the company should integrate into this scheme,” says Didier Lebbe, Permanent Secretary of the Christian union CNE/LBC. It may, therefore, be necessary to develop a new network, think the unions.
Eurowings, however, does not yet have a clear plan on how to get there, it seems. There is currently no need to grow in Brussels, but if opportunities like the recent take-over of Thomas Cook Airlines Belgium appear, Brussels Airlines will grab them, says Dirks.
“Give us time to work, trust us, that’s what we are told,” laments the unionist. It will be up to the new management of Brussels Airlines to develop, present and implement this plan. But his financial director has not been named yet. He should be named next Monday and then accompany the new CEO Christina Foerster in this task.
Thorsten Dirks sees no change in employment in the short term, says Filip Lemberechts of the liberal union ACLVB/CGSLB. And no major change for staff is expected before the summer season 2019 at the earliest, adds Anita Van Hoof, of the socialist union BBTK/SETCa. In this context, no action by the staff is planned immediately, according to the different unions.
According to some sources, Eurowings sees major developments in Paris, Rotterdam (to compete against KLM in Schiphol) and, of course, Düsseldorf. Brussels would only maintain the current 50 aircraft based in the near future. The future development remains unsure.