At the end of last year, the ailing Air Belgium, of which the Walloon Region is one of the most important shareholders, had already decided to make deep cuts in its offer. The Belgian airline canceled almost all flights to the Antilles, citing high kerosene prices. This left only the connections between Brussels and Mauritius and the connection to South Africa – from Brussels to Johannesburg and Cape Town.
Now those passenger flights are also being stopped, the company announced on Monday afternoon. All passenger flights scheduled for October 3, 2023 remain insured; the return flights will be provided by Air Belgium itself or via other airlines. Flights scheduled after October 3, 2023 and already paid for by travelers would be canceled and refunded on a priority basis. The airline says it has around 20,000 bookings for flights after October 3.
From now on, Air Belgium wants to focus on existing freight and leasing activities, which would bring in money. “To date, passenger transport has proven to be chronically unprofitable due to increased competition and is therefore being discontinued,” it said in a statement. “All options that could lead to the continuation of this activity or the continuation of flights after October 3, 2023 were studied, but the financial situation did not allow this.” The employees involved will be gradually transferred to other activities within the company.
In order to get the current debt under control and become profitable again, the board of directors of Air Belgium has submitted an application for a judicial reorganization procedure by means of an amicable agreement.
At the end of July it was announced that Air Belgium ended the past financial year with a loss of more than 44 million euros. Air Belgium’s turnover last year was 228 million euros, much higher than the 131 million in 2021, when many corona restrictions were still in force. Scheduled flights resumed in 2022 and Air Belgium continued to operate flights for third parties. At the same time, the airline was confronted with higher costs: 302.8 million euros compared to 152 million the year before. This was mainly the result of more expensive fuel, in combination with a deteriorating euro-dollar exchange rate.
The net loss increased to 44.6 million euros. At the end of 2021, Air Belgium was 12 million euros in the red. The cumulative losses since the start of operations in 2016 amount to more than 91.6 million euros, according to data from the National Bank.