Brussels Airport ground handler declares bankruptcy 7 days before flights resume

Brussels Airport ground handler declares bankruptcy 7 days before flights resume
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The announcement of the bankruptcy of ground handling company Swissport Belgium has left Brussels Airport and Brussels Airlines with a tight deadline to find a solution to ensure flights will be able to resume as planned on 15 June.

Speaking Monday morning, Brussels Airlines announced that it will put in place a contingency plan to ensure flights resume on 15 June after Swissport Belgium - responsible for 60% of handling at Zaventem airport - announced that it had filed for bankruptcy for its ground handling and cleaning services.

For its part, Brussels Airport said on Monday that a "quick solution for Swissport was absolutely necessary". The Zaventem Airport said it is in contact with the various stakeholders "to find very short-term solutions and guarantee the continuity of operations (carried out by the handler)".

A Difficult Time

The announcement from Swissport Belgium follows a difficult period for the company after Brussels Airlines - its main customer - stopped flying on 21 March.  Around 1,469 employees work at Swissport in Belgium, with no clarity on how the news will impact their jobs. 

“We have assessed the situation from an operational and financial point of view and considered all scenarios in order to examine whether ensuring a sustainable future for ground handling and cleaning services was possible,” said Thierry Miremont, CEO of Swissport in Belgium.

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“Unfortunately, we could not meet our financial obligations in this particularly difficult period for the aviation industry. We regret the impact this bankruptcy has on our employees, customers and the Belgian aviation community.”

Brussels Airlines does not yet wish to comment on how the company will deal with the Swissport bankruptcy, airline spokeswoman Kim Daenen said. However, the airline maintains is planning to resume flights on 15 June.

Brussels Airport officials mirrored this plan, stressing that it is "essential that the continuity of airport operations can be ensured in the hours and days that follow, and certainly from 15 June, the date on which many European flights will be restarted at Brussels Airport".

They also reiterated their appeal to the government to help the airport companies affected by the Covid-19 crisis and the handling companies.

For the next steps, Brussels Airport has said that a trustee should be appointed by the court for the company to assess the situation and examine the possibilities of ensuring the continuation of operations.

Jules Johnston

The Brussels Times

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