Carsten Spohr, the CEO of the group of companies around the German airline Lufthansa, has written to Belgian prime minister Sophie Wilmès to assure her than his group has no intention of letting Brussels Airlines go.
Brussels Airlines is currently in talks with the government over state support for the airline, which says it has only enough resources to last until the end of May. It is reported to be asking for €290 million.
Lufthansa owns Brussels Airlines, along with Swiss, Austrian and the low-cost airline Eurowings.
“It is important that we remain profitable and that we can maintain our competitive position as a group,” Spohr writes.
The statement is important for morale at Brussels Airlines, where the attitude of the parent company has been less than fulsome in recent times. But it also makes business sense: Lufthansa has over time invested some €400 million in the company, creating more than 100 new jobs and doubling the number of passengers carried to more than 10 million a year.
Spohr also assured Wilmès that any state aid given by the Belgian government would be used by Brussels Airlines alone, addressing critics who suggested the money might disappear into a group fund instead of going where it was intended to go.
Despite having a war chest of some €4 billion, Lufthansa has had to concentrate its efforts on keeping its German company out of trouble, and has sent its Swiss, Austrian and Belgian subsidiaries to their own governments for aid.
Spohr also hints at an even greater role for Brussels Airlines within the Lufthansa group.
“Brussels Airlines and its strong positioning in Africa, combined with its strong commitment to the Belgian economy and home market, has particularly great potential that we can still use together,” he writes. “The hub in Brussels in particular is important for the Lufthansa group.”
Finally, he suggests a possible meeting with himself, Wilmès and Brussels Airlines CEO Dieter Vranckx, to go over the airline’s plans for the future. Lufthansa is one of the founder-members of the Star Alliance, the world’s largest airline alliance, which represents fully 50% of the market at Brussels Airport.