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Brussels Airlines CEO optimistic despite coronavirus crisis

Credit: Belga

Brussels Airlines’ CEO is optimistic despite the airline’s struggle through the current financial crisis. “I’m going for it 100%,” he said.

The new coronavirus (Covid-19) is causing a change of plans for Brussels Airlines’ strategy. “In the end, the goal is to grow profitably from 2023. But first, we have to survive the coming weeks,” CEO Dieter Vranckx said in an interview with Het Laatste Nieuws.

Brussels Airlines wants to reach a profit margin of 8% after 10 years of average losses. The company was already in the process of restructuring before the crisis. The crisis has accelerated this process, Vranckx said.

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The company was quick to act, according to Vranckx. “The virus had already been in Italy for a few weeks, and suddenly our new bookings dropped 6% below the normal level. From then on, it got worse every day. That’s why we were one of the first to stop a series of flights from March 11th,” he said.

Brussels Airlines is currently in talks with the government and with politicians. Last week, it was revealed that renationalisation of the airline was on the table. Vranckx firmly believes that the airline’s impact on the Belgian economy should not be underestimated. 

“We employ 4,200 people, and there are another 40,000 jobs directly dependent on Brussels Airlines. That’s four times more than if the flights to Zaventem were operated by a foreign company. Tourists who come to Belgium also spend an average of €650, not counting airline tickets,” he said.

“Thanks to us, Brussels is a hub, and I’m sure it will continue to be so,” Vranckx said.

Jason Spinks
The Brussels Times