Brussels Airlines will cut 25% of workforce due to coronavirus

Brussels Airlines will cut 25% of workforce due to coronavirus
Credit: Brussels Airlines

Brussels Airlines has clinched an agreement with employee representatives which will see the company shed 25% of its workforce, the airline announced Friday.

Departing employees will be put on a 12-month outplacement scheme to support and oversee their transition to a new job, Brussels Airlines said in a press release.

The agreement brings to a close six weeks of negotiations and falls in line with a previous announcement made in May, in which the company said that it would lay off 1,000 workers out of its roughly 4,000-strong workforce.

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It also finalised a preliminary agreement announced Wednesday, which unions said they were "satisfied" with, saying that many employees would be willing to accept a voluntary departure scheme.

“We took responsibility, now it’s up to the government and Lufthansa,” a union representative said.

"The agreement safeguards 75% of the jobs, evenly spread across departments," the company said, adding that early retirement plans, part-time employment and putting staff on unpaid leave helped cut down the rate of effective terminations.

The airline said that the new agreement will improve long-term perspectives for its remaining employees and increase the company's competitiveness.

In announcing the reduction of its workforce in May, the flag carrier had cited the "extremely negative" impact of the coronavirus pandemic on its operations.

The new agreement comes amid speculation over the airline's future, with reports last week saying its parent company Lufthansa could allow it to go bankrupt amid rocky negotiations for a rescue deal with the Belgian government.

A spokesperson for the airline said the reports were "pure speculation," with trade unions also saying they would not yield in to panic, saying the company had been "dead and buried ten times over.”

The company said that it expected the talks with to obtain financial support from the government remained "essential" and that it expected they would yield a "positive outcome."

Gabriela Galindo and Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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