Lufthansa said on Thursday it was exercising an option to buy the remaining 55 per cent of Brussels Airlines for 2.6 million euros ($2.7 million), and integrate it as a subsidiary of Eurowings, in a move seen to further strengthen the budget carrier’s market position.
The purchase was previously approved last September by the Board of Lufthansa Group. The German carrier already owned 45 per cent of Brussels Airlines since 2008.
The cost of the acquisition is EUR€2.6 million and will complete in early January 2017, Lufthansa said.
Brussels Airlines’ 23 long-haul and 79 European destinations will operate under the Eurowings banner, Lufthansa’s push into the low cost market to counter stiff competition from the likes of Ryanair and easyJet.
The Belgian carrier’s Airbus A320s and A330s will be folded into Lufthansa Group’s fleet, bringing its total fleet size to almost 700 aircraft. In addition to the Brussels acquisition, Lufthansa also owns Austrian Airlines, Eurowings and Swiss International Air Lines.
“We want to further sustainably strengthen the important aviation location of Brussels and continue to improve the connectivity of the European Capital,” Lufthansa chief executive Carsten Spohr said.
“Based on its successful development, Brussels Airlines is able to play a leading role in bringing our pan-European point-to-point offer under the brand of the Eurowings Group to new successful heights,” he added.
How the take-over will affect flights to African destinations offered by Brussels Airlines is not yet clear.
Brussels Airlines carried 7.5 million passengers in 2015 and made an operating profit of EUR€43.4 million for the full year. // Felix Dappah