News Listings for Air Belgium

  • $2b debt spells the end for Sabena

    News | 13 Nov 2001 00:00

    <p>HERMAN DE WULF / BRUSSELS &amp; SIMON WARBURTON / PARIS</p> <p>Airline's chairman blames Swissair and union action, as well as global crisis for sealing ailing Belgian carrier's fate</p> <p>Belgian flag carrier Sabena finally accepted the inevitable and declared itself bankrupt on 7 November after 78 years in operation, leaving debts of €2.2 billion ($2 billion) and over 12,000 employees out of work. The bankruptcy is the largest in Belgium's history. </p> <p>Chairman Fred Chaffart admits that Sabena's "continued lack of profitability" significantly contributed to the carrier's downfall - Sabena has been profitable only twice since 1958. Chaffart also blamed former 49.5% owner Swissair, saying: "Swissair's aggressive expansion policy, its sudden 2001 reversal followed by non-payment of a contractually agreed capital increase [60% of a total of €430 million], wild-cat strikes and the aviation industry crisis" all contributed to Sabena's demise. </p> <p>Sabena's 86 aircraft are gr
  • Preussag named as possible buyer of Sabena's Sobelair

    News | 27 Aug 2001 23:00

    <p>HERMAN DE WULF / BRSUSSELS</p> <p>A take-over would consolidate the German tour operator's position in the Belgian market</p> <p>German tour operator Preussag has emerged as a potential buyer of Belgian charter airline Sobelair. The carrier is part of the asset fire sale being undertaken by Sabena in an effort to raise fresh capital to stave off increasing financial problems. Despite the airline's parlous position, Sabena pilots have announced they intend to strike in protest at the airline's restructuring plan. </p> <p>Preussag is Sobelair's main customer and a take-over would consolidate its position in the Belgian market. Sabena has confirmed the Preussag interest but has declined to comment further ahead of any agreement. The German company already owns leading European charter airlines Hapag-Lloyd and Britannia. </p> <p>One of the subjects under discussion between the two parties is Sobelair's ownership of the Air Belgium brand name following the demise of the Airtours-owne
  • Vanneste takes Embraers to DAT

    News | 21 May 2001 23:00

    <p>Johan Vanneste has joined Sabena's commuter subsidiary Delta Air Transport (DAT) as chief executive just days after he failed to interest the Belgian flag carrier in a scheme to resurrect Air Belgium as a feeder airline. </p> <p>The appointment became effective immediately after Vanneste was left jobless after his attempt to resuscitate Air Belgium, where he was managing director, collapsed. Several European airlines, including Sabena, had rejected his scheme which would have allowed the ex-charter operator to resume services as a low-cost airline, providing wet-lease Embraer ERJ-145s to bigger airlines (<I>Flight International</I>, 15-21 May). </p> <p>Vanneste will be responsible for introducing Embraer aircraft on low density routes which he had previously eyed for Air Belgium.</p>
  • Lukewarm response to resurrecting Air Belgium

    News | 14 May 2001 23:00

    <p>Plans to resurrect former charter specialist Air Belgium have been abandoned due to a lack of interest from potential airline investors. The carrier's former chief executive Johan Vanneste had led a management initiative to relaunch Air Belgium - closed down by UK owner Airtours - as a niche shorthaul airline serving Brussels, but met a lukewarm response from other carriers approached for backing. </p> <p>Vanneste's business plan called for the wet lease of four or five 50-seat Embraer ERJ-145 jets to major airlines, but he says meetings with Sabena executive director Christoph M&uuml;ller failed to secure a deal, and that other carriers preferred alternative options. Air Belgium would probably have been relaunched under a new name, Sobelair owning the branding.</p>
  • Sabena in move to cut capacity

    News | 09 Apr 2001 23:00

    <p>Herman De Wulf/BRUSSELS</p> <p>Sabena has made reducing capacity the number one priority in its new business plan which is likely to see its remaining A320 orders cancelled and the introduction of a fleet of small regional jets. </p> <p>The financially troubled Belgian airline's president Christophe M&uuml;ller is preparing to complete the new fleet plan for the end of April. "We have overcapacity on certain routes," says M&uuml;ller. "We'd like to operate smaller aircraft but also maintain or even increase our frequencies." </p> <p>The 50-seat Embraer ERJ-145, which is already operated by SAirGroup partner Crossair, has been identified as the aircraft to replace part of Sabena's BAe 146/Avro RJ fleet, which are expensive to operate and will be sold. Sabena is also in talks with Airbus on cancelling the 14 A320 family aircraft on order. Twenty of the 34 single-aisle Airbuses ordered in 1999 to replace and expand the airline's Boeing 737 fleet have been delivered, but Sabena says
  • Sabena audit backs full merger with Swissair

    News | 06 Feb 2001 00:00

    <p>Herman De Wulf/BRUSSELS</p> <p>Independent auditors have recommended a full merger of Sabena and Swissair as part-solution to the near-bankrupt Belgian flag-carrier's troubles, while blaming its shareholders - the Belgium Government and the Swiss carrier's parent SAirGroup - for its parlous situation. </p> <p>The audit by International Pilot Services of the USA, appointed by Belgian trade unions representing Sabena staff and backed by the airline, says "a further consolidation is inevitable" since Sabena and Swissair "need economies of scale" to compete with larger European carriers. Present European laws would see Sabena lose its bilateral rights after an SAir takeover. </p> <p>It adds that the pair's Airline Management Partnership "is designed to create synergies", but that they "should go further into real a merger of activities". </p> <p>The report says Sabena's huge growth (97% over the last three years against an industry average of 36%) made it vulnerable to an industry d