Brussels Airlines to repay Belgium's emergency Covid-19 loan early

Brussels Airlines to repay Belgium's emergency Covid-19 loan early
Credit: David Stockman / Belga

Brussels Airlines will repay the emergency support it received from the Belgian State to get through the Covid-19 crisis by the end of this year – much earlier than the agreed deadline of 2026.

​In July 2020, the Belgian Federal Government granted a stabilisation package of €290 million for the company to overcome the unprecedented crisis caused by the pandemic and create a sustainable future. Today, the Belgian airline announced that it will repay this loan by the end of 2022, with the support of the Lufthansa Group.

"We want to thank the Belgian government for their confidence and support. The repayment of the state loan is a clear sign of trust from the Lufthansa Group in our way forward," said Brussels Airlines' CEO Peter Gerber in a press release. "With this capital injection, they confirm their belief that a profitable future for Brussels Airlines is within reach."

While the company made a loss of €89 million between January and June, the summer months (July, August and September) made an operational profit of €51 million – its "strongest quarter ever," said chief financial officer Nina Oewerdieck.

"Our company has shown that it can fly profitably even considering the challenging economic reality," she said, adding that Brussels Airlines is confident that it can remain profitable. Due to poor results at the beginning of the year, the company will not yet be profitable in 2022 "but profit is within reach" in 2023.

Next year, the airline will get four extra aircraft for short- and medium-haul flights, additional destinations (mainly within Europe) will be added to the network, and extra staff will be hired as well. And importantly, it will repay the state loan it received, something that its parent company Lufthansa and other Lufthansa Group airlines such as Swiss have also done in the meantime.

In exchange for the government financing, two members of the board of directors at Brussels Airlines were allowed to be appointed by the government. It is not clear whether they will remain on the board.

Addressing the social conflict and three-day strike at the airline due to heavy workloads and deteriorating work conditions in late June, Brussels Airlines management now said of the ongoing negotiations that it is looking forward to a "positive cooperation" with the unions.

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