Brussels Airlines has asked the federal government for €200 million in aid to cope with the fallout from the coronavirus (Covid-19) epidemic.
The company will stop all flights from Saturday, and the losses sustained, while the 4,000 staff are paid, will amount to the equivalent of €70 million.
According to De Tijd, rumours in government circles suggest the company risks bankruptcy without aid. However Brussels Airlines categorically denies the situation is so precarious.
“There is simply no question of a bankruptcy to be avoided,” a spokesperson said.
Meanwhile the parent company of Brussels Airlines, the German carrier Lufthansa, is asking for aid from the German government, faced with potential losses of €1 billion a month. Ratings agency Moody’s this week lowered Lufthansa’s rating to Ba1, which signifies a credit risk.
The new rating makes it difficult if not impossible for the airline to look for financing from the usual sources, thereby increasing the urgency of obtaining government aid.
The paper also reports that tourist airline TUI fly is also asking the Belgian government for aid in the current crisis. TUI Belgium, which also has a German parent, earlier denied it intended asking for state aid.
Now, De Tijd says, the two Belgian airlines, together with Arnaud Feist, the CEO of Brussels Airport, have an appointment with prime minister Sophie Wilmès.
Another applicant is likely to be the much smaller Air Belgium, which works mainly as a subcontractor for the larger airlines. And if they are in trouble, Air Belgium is in trouble.