‘Strikes cost Brussels Airlines €14 million, Lufthansa €350 million’

The recent social unrest, with several strikes and strike notices, has cost Brussels Airlines an estimated 14 million euros. As a result, the Belgian airline went deeper into the red in the first quarter than during the first three months of last year.

Strikes didn’t affect the Belgian airline alone, as parent company Lufthansa saw the impact of strikes amounting to 350 million euros. Nevertheless, it remains Brussels Airline’s ambition to make more profit this year than in 2023.

1,66 million passengers

With more than 1,66 million passengers, Brussels Airlines performed 4% better in the first quarter than in the same period last year, and revenue also rose by 3% to 289 million euros. However, the airline suffered more losses. The operating loss came to -58 million euros, compared to -43 million euros a year earlier.

Social unrest around staff pay and working conditions – pilots went on strike for a day in mid-January, and stewards and flight attendants laid off work for three days at the end of February – had something to do with that. Brussels Airlines estimates that the social unrest cost it around 14 million euros.

“As soon as threats of an imminent strike arise, we see an immediate impact on our travelers,” says Nina Öwerdick, Brussels Airlines’ chief financial officer. “With uncertainty, people stop booking.”

However, the first quarter of the year is also traditionally weaker in the airline industry, as travel demand is lower. It is not abnormal for an airline to make a loss then. Brussels Airlines also maintains its ambition to make more profit this year than in 2023. Back then, operating profit came to 53 million euros, a record.

€849 million loss for Lufthansa Group

Parent company Lufthansa has also seen repeated strikes in recent months. The impact of those actions on the group amounts to some 350 million euros. The German airline has, therefore, decided to cut costs. Projects are being put ‘on hold,’ and recruitments are reconsidered – the plans were to hire 13,000 new employees this year.

The Lufthansa Group suffered an operating loss of 849 million euros in the first three months. In the same period last year, a deficit of 273 million euros was recorded. However, turnover rose by 5% to 7,39 billion euros.

Also, in the second quarter, Lufthansa still expects an impact of 100 million due to strikes that resulted in fewer bookings for April and May. Profits will rise again only in the second half of the year. Bookings were already 16% higher for the summer months than last year.

Still, it will not meet this year’s profit targets due to the strikes. The capacity target – some 94% of the era for the Covid-19 pandemic – will also not be met but will be two percentage points lower.

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