[Open letter] Brussels Airlines pilots propose a temporary salary decrease to save jobs

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In an open letter, the pilots at Brussels Airlines make a number of proposals to save the airline. Last week, Brussels Airlines – severely hit by the coronavirus pandemic – announced a drastic cut in fleet, destinations and workforce: up to 1,000 jobs are at stake including 191 pilots and 470 cabin crew members. 

Brussels Airlines was just recovering from the Eurowings debacle – several attempts to integrate the airline into the low-cost branch of the Lufthansa Group failed – when the next crisis was just around the corner,” the pilots wrote. “The lack of vision of our German and Belgian management has cost an enormous amount of money and time. Despite several warnings from its staff, the airline lost three precious years that could have been better used for the airline’s health and profitability.”

This coronavirus crisis has weakened us even further and without financial support from Lufthansa and the Belgian State we have no chance of survival. Other countries have already agreed to pledge support and financial aid to affected airlines/aviation companies.”

Not only 1,000 Brussels Airlines employees are threatened: at or around the airport many other jobs are – directly or indirectly – at stake. It’s important for Belgium, its economy and all Belgians that Brussels Airport stays a gateway to Europe, Africa and the rest of the world. As being one big and united family, we will do everything to save the airline and every airport job.”

Last week, Brussels Airlines management announced its plans to reduce its workforce by around 1,000 employees, including 191 pilots and 470 cabin crew members. The pilots are fully aware these employees will have zero chance to find another aviation job in the coming years.

Our management informed us of its intention to reduce our wages by introducing several questionable tax techniques (“cafeteria plan”). This new plan would mean that the Belgian State will lose over €10 million in social security contributions. Pilots are now offered a company car and other non-essential items, but these proposals are neither socially nor environmentally responsible.”

After consultation with their German and Austrian colleagues, the Brussels Airlines pilots have come to a solution to save money and to secure jobs: “Our solution is a significant reduction in our work hours regime and therefore we accept a salary decrease of up to 45% and this until 2023. This way, Brussels Airlines will avoid €22 million in severance pay to the 191 pilots. In total and until 2023, the airline will save up to €100 million in wages.

Brussels Airlines foresees that it will become profitable again, and also eyes growth again from 2023 onward. Hence the importance of keeping everyone on board. These cost-saving measures will enable the airline to conquer the current crisis.”

The substantial effort proposed by the pilots thus extends to 2023, the year from which Brussels Airlines expects the arrival of new aircraft, “which will allow all staff to return to full working time“, hope the pilots.

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