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Brussels Airlines posts best quarterly financial result in 20-year history
Brussels Airlines ended its third quarter of 2022 at €51 million, a record result in its 20-year history, the company announced.
It was welcome news for the federal government as the airline will now be able to repay its state loan by the end of the year. The company received €290 million in aid from the Belgian state to weather the downturn in air traffic during the pandemic, and underwent restructuring programmes that reduced staff and fleet.
The airline’s chief financial officer Nina Oewerdieck said: “With an Adjusted EBIT of €51 million in the third quarter, we achieved the best quarterly performance in our history.”
Passenger increase of almost 50% over summer
With business and leisure travel both recovering in 2022, Brussels Airlines welcomed 2.28 million passengers on board its flights during the third quarter, an increase of almost 50% compared to the same period last year.
The airline's revenues also increased during this period, amounting to €436 million. This brings the result since the beginning of the year to €888 million, of which almost half was realised during the last quarter.
Operating expenses increased to €408 million, “mainly due to higher production volume, the strong dollar and a sharp increase in the costs of fuel, personnel, airport charges and other taxes,” said the company.
Chief executive Peter Gerber told Belga that even if Brussels Airlines remains 20% smaller than before the health crisis, the result shows for the first time that, “if the demand is there and we can manage a more or less normal activity, we can be profitable.”
Gerber recalled the company’s difficulties pre-pandemic. “If you look at where we came from: in 2019, just before the coronavirus, the situation was almost hopeless.” The health crisis resulted in two restructuring phases, Reboot and Reboot Plus, which cut around a quarter of the workforce and a third of the fleet, reports Le Soir. To survive the pandemic, Brussels Airlines relied on help from the Belgian state and Lufthansa.
Regaining positive results in such a short time is an achievement, underlined the chief executive, who nevertheless remains cautious for the future, reflecting that the third quarter was traditionally the best time of the year for aviation because of the summer travel peak.
Prime minister welcomes news
“Two years after the intervention of the state, the lights are green”, rejoiced prime minister Alexander De Croo. “Both from a commercial and financial point of view, Brussels Airlines is now able to stand on its own two feet. We should be happy about that. Jobs have been saved, airline activity is anchored in Belgium for the future. Brussels Airlines now has the necessary assets to continue to grow and further strengthen its place in European skies.”
The company also announced the expansion of its fleet in 2023 with the addition of four medium-haul aircraft. With the two medium-haul aircraft and the long-haul aircraft that started operating earlier this year, Brussels Airlines’ fleet will count 36 medium-haul aircraft and nine long-haul aircraft next summer, compared to 30 and eight in 2020.
“Nearly 300 people have already been recruited, and several hundred more will be added over the next year,” said Gerber, who pointed out that there were currently no problems recruiting staff. “It seems that Brussels Airlines is still an attractive employer on the Belgian market, since we had more than 12,000 applications for the positions already vacant this year.”
At the end of September, the airline had 3,217 employees.