After a dismal two years, Belgian carrier Brussels Airlines has managed to eat away at its large operating loss by 11% in the first quarter of 2022. This is equal to around €62 million, the company stated in a press release.
The airline was in dire straits during the pandemic and skyrocketing fuel prices further hit the company. The airline suffered “substantial losses” as a result of international travel restrictions.
Travel was again interrupted at the start of the year due to a spike in Omicron variant infections, which led to staffing shortages in the industry and additional travel restrictions.
In 2020, the airline received €290 million in aid from the European Commission. Executive Vice-President of the European Commission stated that the airline “plays an important role in terms of jobs and connectivity in Belgium.”
Not in the clear yet
This year, despite improved financial performance, the airline’s operating expenses leapt by 75% to around €227 million. A spokesperson for the airline explained that this is “mainly due to higher prices and volumes of fuel.”
Brussels Airlines belongs to the SN Group, which is owned by German airline Lufthansa. The German airline has also been battling to get out of the red. It finished 2020 with a €5.2 billion loss before taxes and interest. In 2021, it slashed this to just €1.8 billion.
The start of the year is typically a poor time for aviation performance, although Brussels Airlines is confident that a strong recovery is to follow. The airline expects very high demand during the summer as remaining health restrictions are lifted. It recently dropped its mandatory mask requirement in a “step closer to a ‘normal’ travel experience after the pandemic.”
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This year, Brussels Airlines intends to increase its capacity to 80% of pre-Covid levels (2019) with the addition of two medium-range and one long-range aircraft. It hopes to consolidate its position in West Africa from its hub at Brussels International Airport (Zaventem).
The company has a turnover of around €157 million in its sights for this quarter. This would be almost triple what it earned in the same period in 2021.
In March 2022, total air traffic was up 76% compared to the same period last year, but still 41% below pre-pandemic levels, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).