'Renationalisation' to save Brussels Airlines is a possibility

'Renationalisation' to save Brussels Airlines is a possibility
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The group of experts charged with saving major Belgian companies from the new coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis is looking into the case of Brussels Airlines, for which a possible renationalisation is on the table.

This high-level group, of which Pierre Wunsch (National Bank), Koen Van Loo (SFPI) and Olivier Vanderijst (SRIW) are part, is looking into how to save Brussels Airlines, whose financial health was already not flourishing before the outbreak of the virus, according to the Francophone LN24 info channel.

The company is in urgent need of €200 million in liquid assets, not counting a necessary recapitalisation which could increase the sum to be paid out for its survival to €290 million, according to the channel.

Brussels Airlines confirmed to Het Laatste Nieuws that it is in talks with the government about support because it, like many other airlines, has been severely affected by the corona crisis. However, it did not comment on whether or not a nationalisation of the airline was on the table, as LN24 stated.

"Brussels Airlines is not bankrupt. We refute any rumour to the contrary," the company added, responding to the report of LN24, which said on the basis of an expert that the company was "virtually bankrupt."

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"While the German mother company Lufthansa is facing enormous difficulties itself, it is highly unlikely that it will come to the rescue of its Belgian subsidiary," LN24 pointed out.

The company is essential for the Belgian economy, as many other companies and sectors, like Brussels Airport and the tourism sector, are directly dependent on it, in addition to the 3,500 direct jobs it is responsible for.

Several financial mechanisms, such as loans convertible into capital or conditional credit lines, are being explored, according to LN24. "At this stage, Belgium expects the Germans to put their cards on the table and formulate precise questions regarding liquidity and/or capital. Several sources specify that the public bank Belfius can play a role in mobilising capital," the channel added.

Several European countries, including France and Italy, are considering the nationalisation of their airlines.

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

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