Brussels Airlines Strike Averted With New Pilot and Cabin Crew Agreement

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Summary

  • Brussels Airlines averted a strike after reaching a new deal with its pilots.
  • The agreement came as airline returned to profitability.
  • One of Brussels Airlines executives emphasized constructive negotiations with unions, highlighting the importance of finding solutions together for sustainable growth.

Brussels Airlines has announced that after it struck a deal with its pilots and cabin crew members, the union-planned three-day strike was canceled. The airline’s flight attendants first confirmed the agreement, with the carrier’s pilots following suit two weeks later.

New agreement focused on remuneration

The carrier’s announcement outlined that on March 24, 2024, it agreed to a new deal with its pilots, which was signed on the same day. Brussels Airlines highlighted that during the pandemic, its staff “had to make sacrifices” in order to save the company.

However, since the airline returned to profitability, it struck deals with unions representing its employees, increasing their purchasing power while also taking into account the current financial conditions. The carrier did not detail these conditions, adding that it and its unions will review the pilots’ salaries twice: when signing the agreement and in 2026.

Photo: Markus Mainka | Shutterstock

Filip Aerts, the Head of Flight Operations at Brussels Airlines, remarked that after reaching an agreement with its flight attendants, the airline was satisfied that it was able to agree with its pilots, with the executive thanking the unions for constructive negotiations.

“It proves again that staying around the table with everybody committed to finding solutions, mountains can be moved. Let’s now all focus on getting towards sustainable profitability and making our company grow.”

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Three days of cabin crew strikes, which could get worse if other unions join.

Returning to profitability

When the Lufthansa Group announced its financial results in early March, the airline group said that all of its carriers, including Brussels Airlines, were profitable for the first time ever. The Brussels Airport (BRU)-based airline’s last profit was in 2019.

Tails of Lufthansa Group member airlines

Photo: Lufthansa Group

Detailing the Belgian carrier’s results, the report indicated that Brussels Airlines earned €1.5 billion ($1.6 billion) of revenue, with a total of €1.6 billion ($1.7 billion) of operating income in 2023. While the report did not state whether the airline earned a net profit, its earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) was €53 million ($57.3 million), a reversal from last year’s negative EBIT of €75 million ($81.1 million).

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1st Time Ever: All Lufthansa Airlines Were Profitable In 2023

The Lufthansa Group indicated that it would still not be able to reach its 2019 capacity in 2024.

Continuous strikes

However, while Brussels Airlines had managed to avert a massive three-day strike by its pilots and cabin crew members, the Lufthansa Group has been facing union action over the past few months.

As reported by Deutsche Welle (DW), citing an internal memo by its chief financial officer (CFO) Remco Steenbergen, the Germany-based airline Lufthansa has already lost around €250 million ($270.5 million) following several strikes by its employees, as well as security staff at German airports.

A Lufthansa plane at Frankfurt Airport (FRA) at night

Photo: Fraport AG

When the German airline was forced to cancel over 80% of its flights in early March, Michael Niggemann, the Chief Human Resources Officer and Labour Director at Lufthansa, remarked that the union, representing its ground handling staff, was deliberately escalating the dispute between the airline and its staff.

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Strikes are planned for next Tuesday and Wednesday in Frankfurt and Munich.



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