A rescue attempt for Brussels Airport ground handler Swissport was not successful and the company is officially bankrupt. In practice this means 1,309 employees of Swissport Belgium NV and the 160 employees of Swissport Belgium Cleaning NV will be laid off.
The news came after three curators assigned to rescue the bankrupt company finally told the unions representing the Swissport employees that there would be no way to keep the company afloat. Swissport used to handle the handling operation for 40% of Brussels Airlines flights.
1. Who Will Take Care of Check-in and Bag Handling?
The administration of Brussels Airport had envisioned an enhanced set of security measures including body heat sensing cameras to be deployed as of Monday June 15th. The future for the revamp of operations at the Belgian capital’s airport remains uncertain, however, as the airport is legally required to have two ground handlers. Aviapartner is now the sole ground handler for passenger transport at the airport, after the bankruptcy of Swissport.
Swissport Cargo Services Belgium, a separate entity, has not been affected and continues to operate in both Brussels’s and Liege’s airport. For the cargo business, in addition to Aviapartner and Swissport, the third handler is Dnata.
On Wednesday June 10th, three flights had to be cancelled due to the bankruptcy of Swissport. These were flights to and from Helsinki (Finnair), Frankfurt (Lufthansa) and Rome (Alitalia). In the recent past, both Aviapartner and Swissport suffered losses in the handling of passenger flights at Brussels Airport.
It remains uncertain how the management of Brussels Airport will address the need to have two ground handlers.
2. A European Recovery Plan for Green Growth
Of the 1,500 jobs threatened, 30% are occupied by Brussels’s inhabitants, the Brussels Employment Minister, Benard Clerfayt estimates.
“After the health crisis, certain sectors, including the air transport sector, will suffer damage on an unprecedented scale. Companies will make staff redundant and the number of bankruptcies will increase. We are expecting a significant drop in economic activity in several sectors. We must anticipate these foreseeable situations in our recovery plans,” he said.
In Bernard Clerfayt’s view, these must be part of the European recovery plan for green, digital and inclusive growth, which is essential for job creation.
He went on to assure that training and support for people who have lost their jobs will be at the heart of employment policies in the capital. “We are committed to supporting all those made redundant so that they can bounce back into a new job.