Following on from the successes of joint ventures, Brussels Airlines and Eurowings will now take the next important actions in the assimilation progression by identifying the role that each airline will play within the Eurowings Group.
Formed following a merger between SN Brussels and Virgin Express in 2006, Brussels Airlines was purchased by Lufthansa in 2017. Originally bought for its extensive network in Africa, Brussels Airlines now has Lufthansa delicately trying to absorb it into Eurowings.
Lufthansa’s plan for Brussels Airlines
Lufthansa’s plan is to turn Brussels Airlines into the long-haul carrier of Eurowings, and to use Brussels Airport as a hub. The Belgian capital will also serve Lufthansa’s European growth strategy as a base to expand into the Dutch and French speaking parts of the continent.
Closer ties between Brussels Airlines and Eurowings
When talking about closer ties between Eurowings and Brussels Airlines in a press release, Eurowings Group CEO Thorsten Dirks said:
“The successful launch of Eurowings long-haul flights operated by Brussels Airlines out of Düsseldorf to New York, Fort Myers and Miami last April, reconfirms the long-haul expertise of the Brussels based airline. In only five months Eurowings and Brussels Airlines have managed to set up a long-haul base at Düsseldorf, strengthening the group in one of its key German airports,”
Along with focusing on their low-cost long haul offerings, Lufthansa also want to steer their short-haul Eurowings flights out of Cologne. By joining forces with Brussels Airlines they hope to cement Eurowings’ position as the number three budget carrier in Europe.
Besides turning all their attention to Brussels and Cologne, both Brussels Airlines and Eurowings will still operate long- and short-haul flights out of Düsseldorf, Vienna and other European airports.
CEO of Brussels Airlines, Christina Foerster also talks about closer ties and cooperation with Eurowings. In a press release from Brussels Airlines, Foerster said:
“Brussels Airlines is recognized for its expertise and for the value it adds to the Eurowings Group. We will continue building on our assets to become an even more important player within the group while remaining Belgium’s strong home carrier and continuing to focus on our guests.”
Will Brussels Airline keep its name?
While the ultimate aim is to eventually consolidate Brussels Airlines into Eurowings both CEO’s are putting a positive spin on it. Having said that, Brussels Airlines CEO Christina Foerster, was keen to point out that Brussels Airlines will remain Belgium, despite having German owners.
Given what Stefan Kreuzpaintner, Lufthansa’s vice-president sales for Europe, Middle East and Africa, said to FlightGlobal just over a year ago she might be right. When asked about the integration of Eurowings and Brussels Airlines, Kreuzpaintner said:
“I would say there must be a different commercial approach between short-haul and long-haul,”
He added that Eurowings will continue to be the group’s main brand for long-haul and short-haul flights in Europe, while what to do with the African routes was still being discussed. His opinion on the matter is that given the long history of first Sabena and now Brussels Airlines and their cultural ties to Africa, it is important that Brussels Airlines retains its Belgian identity.
“Flying into [Burkina Faso’s capital] Ouagadougou, for instance, I can hardly imagine flying with Eurowings – that is clear. So we have to take the best out of all worlds, not giving up the strength of Brussels Airlines in the African network, but by the same time finding some synergies of Eurowings as a brand.”
Taking into account all that has been said by both Brussels Airlines and Eurowings, it is obvious that Lufthansa is seeking closer ties between the two airlines. The stumbling point seems to be keeping the Brussels Airline name which for now, given public sentiment in Belgium and executive views, seems to be something that won’t change anytime soon.