(Posted 09th August 2022)
In the first half of this year, Brussels Airlines welcomed 2.73 million passengers on board its flights. This figures is three times higher than during the same period last year, when the covid pandemic and subsequent travel bans plummeted air travel demand.
Brussels Airlines increased its revenue by EUR 314 million or 228% year-on-year to EUR 452 million in the first half year of 2022 (previous year: EUR 138 million), thanks to expanded flight operations and higher yields. The revenues in the first semester of 2022 were still impacted by slow demand at the beginning of the year due to the Omicron wave. Later in June, the airline faced four days of flight plan disruptions due to a national manifestation and social actions. If not taking into account the strike days, June was an EBIT-positive month, in line with the estimations of Brussels Airlines’ restructuring plan.
Operating expenses went up by a total of EUR 282 million or 97% to EUR 572 million (previous year: EUR 290 million), due to higher volume and steep increases of costs.
Said Nina Oewerdieck, the CFO of Brussels Airlines: “Not only the strike cut deep into our results, but also the automatic indexation in Belgium has driven up our labor cost by 6% this year alone, by 8% if we consider November’s indexation. The still very high fuel price and more general inflation, combined with the strong position of the dollar make that our costs have risen substantially. The strike impact on our financials shows how crucial social peace is for our company and we are moving in the right direction on this front, creating a renewed partnership with our unions. We continue to work on improvements for the long run in order to make sure we create growth and perspective for Brussels Airlines, while safeguarding our employees’ work-life balance.”
As a result, the Adjusted EBIT in the reporting period amounted to EUR -89 million (previous year: EUR -143 million), an improvement of 38% compared to the first semester of 2021.
Nina Oewerdieck then added: ‘We see a big improvement of our result compared to last year and we will continue to see improvements as we have reached a very competitive cost position thanks to our restructuring program and our positive yield development. Also operationally we are performing quite well given the very challenging circumstances in the aviation sector across Europe due to the very fast recovery of the market demand. This is thanks to the efforts of all our employees as well as all our partners.”
Africa remains a stronghold
Brussels Airlines’ African sector continues to perform well, as it has throughout the Covid pandemic. In summer, the offer exceeds 2019 levels, thanks to an expansion of its Africa capacity. With the addition of a 9th long haul aircraft, Brussels Airlines reinforced its position in West Africa with the opening of Ouagadougou and Conakry. The first results are looking very positive.
The fourth quarter is still a question mark, as the development of Covid is still unknown.
Given the unforeseen high costs, the planned breakeven for the full year is not within reach anymore. For the remainder of the year, Brussels Airlines’ target is to reach a breakeven in the second semester.
Nina Oewerdieck then concluded by saying: “Thanks to Reboot Plus we are now properly restructured to reach for our targets. We have succeeded in bringing our company to a very competitive cost position. Combined with the successful increase of our yields, we are set up for a sustainable future. External cost factors may still influence results, though.”
In the first semester, Brussels Airlines clearly turned a page, moving from the restructuring to growth with a successful hiring campaign, showing that the airline remains an attractive employer on the market. Brussels Airlines now employs more than 3,200 people again (+6% year on year in June). 65 positions are currently still open in different departments of the company.