Richard Branson’s no-frills Belgian-based carrier, Virgin Express, has completed merger talks with rival SN Brussels Airlines to form the main operator at Brussels Airport.
They agreed last year to combine their operations in a joint holding company.Etienne Davignon, one of the founders of SN Brussels from the bankrupt Sabena, said: “The goal is that Virgin plus SN will create added value. One plus one will be more than two.” While Virgin Express Chairman David Hoare gushed: “I guess I feel like the expectant father who’s baby has finally been born. It’s a mixture of relief that the process is over and excitement about the future. I hope the baby is going to grow up to be beautiful and I’m sure that she will.” The two airlines last year had turnover of 835.8 million euros and carried almost 5.28 million passengers.
They said they have no plans to cut jobs or the size of the fleet.
Although the airlines are being combined in a joint holding company, both will continue to operate separately. Operational details have still to be worked out. It is the latest step in the consolidation of Europe’s fragmented airline industry and the two companies say they are convinced there are enough synergies to make the move profitable.
They will be able to coordinate timetables better, streamline destinations to avoid duplication and reduce excess capacity.