Could Brussels Airlines Partner With Wamos Following Thomas Cook Collapse

Brussels Airlines is reportedly interested in partnering with Spanish tour operator Wamos, following the announcement that it will be taking over 62 ex-Thomas Cook shops in Belgium. From 21 October, the ex-Thomas Cook shops will be reopened, keeping the Neckermann brand.

A Brussels Airlines Jet
Brussels Airlines has lost a key business partner in Thomas Cook. Photo: Alan Wilson via Flickr

In the wake of the collapse of British firm Thomas Cook, Spanish tour operator Wamos has announced it will be taking over 62 of Thomas Cook’s former shops in Belgium. Based out of Madrid, Wamos operates scheduled flights to three Latin American destinations, as well as chartered flights around the world through Pullmantur Air.

Wamos has secured a deal to take over two-thirds of the ex-Thomas Cook Belgium shops. It will continue operating them under the Neckermann brand. Wamos will also be re-employing 200 Thomas Cook employees in Belgium, although it has not yet confirmed which shop it will be reopening.

According to the Belgian aviation news website Aviation24, “Brussels Airlines is looking at this takeover with great interest.” Brussels Airlines itself has said that it is “open to partnerships”, although what form these partnerships will take remains to be seen.

Why is Brussels Airlines interested in partnering with Wamos?

With such a strong presence across Belgium, Thomas Cook/Neckermann was a major player in the travel and tourism industry. Neckermann provided holiday packages to hundreds of thousands of Belgian consumers each year.

A Thomas Cook Jet
Thomas Cook has left a big hole in the aviation industry. Photo: Bernd K via Flickr

While Thomas Cook had a strong flight and aircraft network across Europe, Brussels Airlines actually provided around 800,000 seats to Thomas Cook/Neckermann’s Belgian customers each year.

As it stands Brussels airlines has lost a huge source of revenue in the form of Thomas Cook customers. While holidaymakers will still be booking flights to and from Belgium, Brussels Airlines will no longer be a trusted airline partner with such a large customer base.

Thomas Cook was a major operating partner of Brussels Airlines. Now, instead of being a go-to third-party flight provider for Thomas Cook/Neckermann customers, Brussels Airlines will have to compete with many other airlines offering international flights to Belgian holidaymakers.

What would a partnership between Brussels Airlines and Wamos look like?

Even though Wamos is completely unrelated to Thomas Cook, a deal between Brussels Airlines and Wamos may end up looking reasonably similar to the deal Brussels Airlines shared with Thomas Cook.

As Wamos will be taking over two-thirds of Thomas Cook’s former shops in Belgium, many of the logistical systems will be transferable.

A Thomas Cook Jet
Wamos is taking over Neckermann shops across Belgium. Photo: Fabrizio Gandolfo via Flickr

What’s more, the shops will remain under the Neckermann brand, and even retain a significant portion of the old staff. With these considerations in mind, it’s no surprise Brussels Airlines is keen to establish a partnership with the newcomer.

A deal with Wamos, even if it is smaller than the one with Thomas Cook, is certainly better than no deal at all. Wamos’s strong presence in Latin America will also be appealing to Brussels Airlines.

As of Friday, there was no indication that contact between Brussels Airlines and Wamos had been established regarding a partnership deal.