LONDON, March 30 The Belgian unit of Thomas Cook
Airlines plans to transfer air crews, flight slots and
two of its five aircraft to Brussels Airlines, in a move to
extend a partnership with the Lufthansa-owned carrier, the
companies said on Thursday.
Thomas Cook has worked closely with Brussels Airlines for
years, but the latest initiative follows a slide in customers
and profits at Thomas Cook's Belgian travel unit after last
year's attacks on Brussels airport.
Thomas Cook, whose airline has units in other countries,
said in a statement it had agreed to use Brussels Airlines for
the majority of its Belgium business and would consider
launching new long-haul destinations with the carrier.
"The proposal builds upon a successful 15-year working
relationship between Thomas Cook Belgium and Brussels Airlines,"
Thomas Cook said in it statement.
Under the deal, Thomas Cook's Belgian unit would transfer
160 pilots and cabin crew, flight slots and two aircraft to
Brussels Airlines, it said. The remaining three aircraft will be
deployed across the Thomas Cook Group.
A Brussels Airlines spokesman said the partnership would
mean the carrier could fly to more leisure destinations.
Lufthansa last year exercised an option to acquire
Brussels Airlines in a bid by the German carrier to expand its
Eurowings low-cost unit. Lufthansa executives have previously
called for consolidation among European airlines.
Thomas Cook, whose management has previously said it would
consider partnerships with local airlines, said in its statement
the deal with Brussels Airlines was in line with that strategy.
Thomas Cook said last year it was looking at restructuring
its German airline Condor after poor profitability, but the
Chief Executive Officer Peter Fankhauser told a newspaper this
that Thomas Cook did not want to sell Condor.
(Reporting by Alistair Smout and Victoria Bryan; Editing by