Brussels Airlines receives €290 million state aid in exchange for firm guarantees about its future

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© Edwin Vanoverschelde

After months of negotiations, an agreement to rescue Brussels Airlines has been reached, Belgian broadcast VRT NWS reports. The Belgian government will lend Brussels Airlines €290 million, which should be repaid by 2026, only in exchange for firm guarantees about the future of the airline. Lufthansa will add €170 million in cash.

On 17 March, Brussels Airlines called to the Belgian government for €290 million. In return, the government wanted guarantees for the airline’s preservation and growth. That agreement is now almost complete.

The text has yet to go through Lufthansa’s Board of Directors and the Belgian government (which convenes this Tuesday evening), but VRT NWS learned that there are no problems to be expected. The German government (which became recently the largest shareholder of Lufthansa) and the European Commission must also give their agreement.

The funds will remain within Brussels Airlines and will not flow to Lufthansa itself or to other subsidiaries of the German group. The Germans have committed to keep the hub and headquarters of Brussels Airlines in Brussels and to keep the name of the airline and its Belgian operating licence. The long-haul network should also be expanded. Those commitments are legally binding.

The Belgian state will have two seats on the Board of Directors of Brussels Airlines. If the commitments are not respected, the state will get a hold on the airline: the airline’s shares will serve as collateral.

Last Friday, the 25th and final conference call took place. Politically, however, it is rumoured that Lufthansa was far more willing after Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Cooperation Development Alexander De Croo reprimanded Lufthansa in the Belgian Parliament.

Brussels Airlines will use part of the rescue money, some 70 million euros, to pay for its restructuring plan Reboot+

Other Lufthansa subsidiaries Austrian Airlines and SWISS received similar state aid, like the parent company itself, which got €9 billion state aid from Germany.

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