Brussels Airlines blames strikes for reduced first-quarter results

Brussels Airlines’ first-quarter results for 2024 are down on the same period for 2023, the company reported on Tuesday. It blames recent social unrest, with a number of strikes and strike notices in the first three months of the year costing the airline an estimated 14 million euros.

Social unrest at the airline revolved around staff pay and working conditions. In mid-January, pilots went on strike for a day, followed by a three-day strike by cabin crew at the end of February. Pilots then threatened a further strike at the end of March, but this was averted following negotiations between unions and management. Agreements were reached for both pilots and cabin crew.

“As soon as a strike is threatened, we see an immediate impact on our travellers,” Nina Öwerdick, Brussels Airlines’ chief financial officer, said in a press release. “When there is uncertainty, people stop booking.” 

"As soon as a strike is threatened, we see an immediate impact on our travellers"

The company saw a 4 per cent rise in passenger numbers in the first quarter of 2024 compared to the same period last year, and revenue was up 3 per cent to 289 million euros. However, it saw an operating loss of 58 million euros, compared to 43 million euros a year earlier. 

The first quarter of the year is traditionally weaker in the airline industry, as demand for travel is lower. Brussels Airlines maintains its ambition to achieve stronger results this year than last year, when its operating profit was a record 53 million euros

Parent company Lufthansa has also experienced repeated strikes in recent months. The impact for the group amounts to 350 million euros, it said on Tuesday when publishing its quarterly figures. 


Brussels Airlines CEO Dorothea von Boxberg at a press conference to present the company's 2023 results, 7 March 2024 © BELGA PHOTO BENOIT DOPPAGNE

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