MIAMI — Lufthansa said on Thursday it was exercising an option to buy the remaining 55 percent 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 owned45 percent of Brussels Airlines since 2008.
In the last year, terror attacks in Brussels, together with the Brexit, the Zika outbreak and the stiff competition from low-cost carriers have taken their toll on the Belgian carrier.
“As a longstanding shareholder and partner of Brussels Airlines, we are already closely linked to each other. Therefore we value Belgium and especially Brussels as highly attractive markets that perfectly complement our offer in the heart of Europe,” Carsten Spohr, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Lufthansa said in a statement.
Lufthansa Group currently has around 600 aircraft, with another 40 set to come next year from a lease deal with Air Berlin.
Once the acquisition is finalized, Brussels Airlines will operate its 23 long-haul destinations as well as 79 destinations in Europe under the Eurowings Group. The Brussels Airlines brand will survive, but now as “member of the Eurowings Group.”
The Brussels Airlines Management Board remains unchanged under the leadership of CEO Bernard Gustin. In addition an Advisory Council will be established and will support the integration process.
The deal marks another episode in the recent European market consolidation, with TUI and Etihad forming a new European leisure carrier from TUIFly and Niki.