The Belgian Government is not pleased with the cost cutting plans of Brussels Airlines. Before a meeting with Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr, tensions are rising.
On Tuesday (May 12), Brussels Airlines announced that it would reduce its fleet by 30 percent and cut one in four jobs. The announcement by the Lufthansa subsidiary surprised Belgium’s government, according to local media reports. This is because negotiations between the state and the group for state aid are still ongoing.
On Monday evening, Lufthansa is said to have rejected an offer by the government. According to various press reports, the amount of aid involved is between 290 and 390 million euros. In return, however, the government demanded a 25 percent stake plus one share in Brussels Airlines. Beyond that, the state wanted to secure control rights for the restructuring of the airline. Lufthansa refused.
Finance Minister appeals to Lufthansa to be reasonable
On Friday the Belgian Finance Minister Alexander De Croo and Lufthansa Group CEO Carsten Spohr will meet in Brussels to find a solution. In a television interview, the politician said that Lufthansa, too, must «prove reason». He said that the group could not demand efforts from the Brussels employees and the Belgian government without making some promises itself in return.
The Finance Minister also referred to the ongoing negotiations of Lufthansa in Germany and its subsidiary Austrian Airlines in Austria. According to De Croo, a consensus solution must be found in the three countries. He was in daily contact with his finance minister colleagues in Germany and Austria.
Negotiations in Germany and Austria
Lufthansa has already announced that the talks with the German government are also about a share of 25 per cent plus one share – at least that is one option. In Austria the details of the negotiations are not yet official. According to reports, however, the Austrian government is even considering a share in the entire Lufthansa group and not just in its subsidiary Austrian Airlines.