Brussels Airlines unions on the Qui-Vive following warnings of “new measures” at Lufthansa
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    Brussels Airlines unions on the Qui-Vive following warnings of “new measures” at Lufthansa

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    Unions representing employees of Brussels Airlines are now on the Qui-Vive, following the announcement by parent company Lufthansa of the impending presentation of new measures at its Eurowings subsidiary, into which the Belgian airline has been integrated.

    “Yes, there are rumours of budget cuts to come, but there has not been any official announcement yet,” the unions commented on Monday after the Lufthansa announcement. However, they said they were not prepared to give any ground on a recent “employment guarantee” obtained on behalf of ground staff.

    On Sunday, Lufthansa issued a new warning about its results. The German aeronautics giant, the biggest in Europe, expects its 2019 operating profit to be between 2.0 billion and 2.4 billion euros, significantly lower than previous forecasts of 2.4 billion to 3.0 billion euros.

    Eurowings, Lufthansa’s low-cost division, is seen as the main reason for this. It is now expected to register a new operational loss in 2019, whereas it was originally expected to achieve balance. “The Eurowings management has taken new recovery measures, which it will soon present,” the company said in a press release.

    Queried on the issue, Brussels Airlines was unable to provide any details. “We hope to have more information in the days or weeks to come,” said a spokeswoman. The Belgian unions were in the same situation. “There are rumours of budget cuts to come, but we do not know what or how,” Anita Van Hoof of the socialist union commented. She hoped Brussels Airlines “will not be dragged down by Eurowings, which does not seem to be a success”.

    When Lufthansa acquired the Belgian company, it decided to integrate it into Eurowings rather than keep it as a separate brand.

    “We’re going to follow that attentively,” Filip Lemberechts of the liberal trade union promised. Speaking of savings is not a taboo, but then do not touch jobs, said Lemberechts, pointing to a collective labour agreement with a built-in job-security guarantee that was signed in March 2019 and is valid until 2021.

    The idea behind this agreement is that “everyone can remain on board,” Lemberechts explained. According to Anita Van Hoof, it is an employment guarantee for ground staff. “It’s all the support staff, such as the IT personnel, technicians, check-in staff and so on,” she said. These workers can stay on the job if they wish, but they can opt for different posts within the company, some of which they have to apply for. Those wishing to leave receive more than the legal minimum wage.”

    A “capital markets day” is to be held next Monday at Lufthansa in Frankfurt, with a particular focus on the group’s finances, strategy and activities. Eurowings’ new measures could be clarified then.

    Oscar Schneider

    The Brussels Times