This Friday (15 May), Lufthansa Group CEO Carsten Spohr will come to Brussels to discuss state aid for Brussels Airlines with the Belgian government, said Finance Minister Alexander De Croo on Belgian television channel VRT.
Lufthansa plays a crucial role in the future of the Belgian airline, which on Tuesday announced a major restructuring plan, with the loss of a thousand jobs. Brussels Airlines is bleeding one million euros per day and thus, public aid is urgently needed, but Lufthansa does not want to hear about state interference in the management of the company.
De Croo leads the negotiations with Lufthansa for the Belgian government. He said that one cannot ask employees to make an effort and at the same time refuse to give any prospects for the company.
“It is difficult to say: the government must give assistance to a private company, but for the rest have no responsibility. It is not possible,” said De Croo. “I have made it clear to Mr Spohr that we are to meet in Brussels and we will do so on Friday.”
Lufthansa remains uncompromising, but Mr De Croo hopes that it will change its mind. “At a certain point, I think that the need for money will be significant. In this case, in a negotiation, also on the German side, it is then necessary to be reasonable“, according to the Belgian minister.
According to newspaper La Libre Belgique, Lufthansa rejected the Belgian government’s proposal to grant financial aid of 390 million euros in exchange for 25 percent plus one share of the company, thereby obtaining a blocking minority. At home, Lufthansa also refuses political interference from the German government in the company in exchange for a 9 billion euros aid. Same story in Austria where the national airline is asking for 767 million euros.
De Croo said that he is in contact with his German and Austrian counterparts almost every day. A solution will therefore have to be found “in which the three countries converge“, added Mr De Croo. No final agreement has yet been reached on aid to Austrian Airlines in Austria and to Lufthansa in Germany. Only SWISS has already received commitments from its government, subject to severe conditions.