Herman de Wulf / brussels

Luxair has opened discussions with Sabena about a potential deal which could see the Luxembourg-based airline lease aircraft and tie-up a codesharing deal with the struggling Belgian carrier.


Sabena is expected to reveal a rescue plan later this month following heavy losses and Luxair is one of a number of airlines believed to be seeking to take advantage of the Belgian company's need to cut routes and reduce aircraft capacity.

The Luxembourg airline is understood to be talking with Sabena about points of common interest. Luxair's new chief executive Christian Heinzmann is familiar with Sabena, having been boss of the airline's Sobelair charter subsidiary before he left and turned Antwerp-based VLM Airlines into Belgium's only profitable carrier.

Luxair has offered to wet-lease some of its under-utilised aircraft to serve thin Sabena routes, possibly under a codesharing agreement.

One of these is Luxembourg-Brussels which Sabena now operates with a wet-leased Schreiner Airways Dash 8. Luxair is hoping to provide Sabena's regional subsidiary Bombardier DAT with two Embraer ERJ-145 regional jets to replace BAe146 and Avro RJ85/100s that are too large on certain Sabena routes. There is also a possibility of wet-leasing a Boeing 737-400 to Sobelair for a three year period.

Outside of the main talks, Luxair is also looking to use Sabena's Boeing 747 rated pilots for 747-400F freighter operations at Cargolux, in which Luxair is a major shareholder. Cargolux has also indicated interest in Sabena's Cargo department and a delegation is to visit Ostend airport in August to study the possibilities of expanding its freight operation in Belgium.

Source: Flight International