View Full Version : Sabena buy out

neil armstrong
6th Oct 2001, 19:30
According to the Belgium news ,American Airlines has shown an interest in Sabena Airlines.
I find this difficult to believe if you look how AA is struggling at the moment?


The Guvnor
6th Oct 2001, 19:49
Neil - I quite agree! If they can throw millions away on buying SN then they obviously don't need Uncle Sam's bail-out!

In addition, non EU companies are only permitted a maximum of 49% of EU airlines - so that rules them out unless they have an EU partner in mind.

What would they gain from SN anyway? One of the worst airlines in Europe, with very poor customer service; militant pilots union; and the dubious history of having only made a profit twice in its 88 year history!

neil armstrong
6th Oct 2001, 19:56
It was stated that they were interested in starting an extended service out of BRU.
I would suggest they wait 2 month’s and there will be lots of room at BRU.


Are you ever offline Guv.

6th Oct 2001, 20:51
Guv, what the hell is your problem with Sabena. Whatever experience you've had with SN it must have been a really bad one, cause you use every single opportunity tot ake a shot at it.

Have you ever considered that a lot of people's future depends on that company. People who are in no way responsible for SN's current miserable state and who feel offended by your unnecessary comments.

I'd suggest you'd fund your critisim with some facts before spouting them here. I for one support the BeCA's actions, but then again I take the effort of finding out whythere actually reacting so strong.

I would really appreciate you thinking twice before lashing out again. Thank you

6th Oct 2001, 22:07
Approaching the minimums
What an appropriate little name in the present time
What continues to amaze me in your reply is the total lack of realism of the current situation.Sabena is history but just out of interest I have a few questions
1)For what holy reason should taxmoney ones again be poured in Sabena and not in citybird
2)Now that Beca has become the new KPMG ,where were they when SAbena was buying planes like candy with a debtburden of +/-50 billion francs

6th Oct 2001, 22:41
if the government insists in putting money into a private airline, it has set a presidence, so they must now give the same money to citybird, vex and DHL etc. also, if SN went, vex would expand (as the only carrier left) and they would have through VS a few 747s to implement their own fleet to do the long haul ala tokyo, africa and everywhere else that could make money.

7th Oct 2001, 00:40
American Airlines-
10 years ago, AA were studying to invest in the ailing and later bankrupt Belgian-Paneuropean charter group TEA, which was owned by George Gutelman, co-owner and director of the now also bankrupt City Bird. AA backed off at the time, reportedly because they considered it senseless to invest in a private carrier at a time where european governments were still amply subsidizing their flag carriers.

Now, ten years later, with a European Union which has since strongly restricted government participation and/or subsidizing, AA may may think their time has come.

One should not forget the belgian government is talking about a new airline, which is different from trying to resurrect the heavily indebted Sabena.

A new airline means new contractual arrangements, with the parties selected by the new investors of the new airline. In the case of AA (or of any other serious contender) this means the investing airline can more than probably arrange for that new airline to lease the excess aircraft of its own fleet, which under the present harsh economic conditions sounds like quite an attractive proposition for the likes of AA.

I would hope all the pilots find a new position sooner rather than later. But I would not be surprised that following the much debated action of the BeCA pilots in Belgium, it may very will be the case that in that new airline or elsewhere , non-BeCA pilots may find a job sooner than their BeCA counterparts.

The Guvnor
7th Oct 2001, 00:59
I've said it on other threads and I'll say it again American Airlines are NOT going to invest in Sabena/Air Belgium!!

A spot of logic shows why.

1) They are in seriously bad economic shape - they, together with United - got the lions share of the $4 billion that was handed out by the US government on the pretext that without it, they would be bankrupt within weeks if not months.

If American - or any other US carrier - nos starts spending on acquisitions or other investments instead of conserving what little cash they have, I suspect that the US government will be a little more than upset with them.

2) American is a member of OneWorl, and has very close ties with BA. Do you seriously mean to say that they would prefer to use BRU rather than LHR?

KLM and BA are still in talks, and AMS makes considerably more sense for a European base than does BRU.

3) American owns very few of its aircraft - all they would do would be to return them to the lessors.

4) Sabena/Air Belgium has very little to offer any investor. Not only does Belgium's high social costs and pro-union legislation make them the least attractive nation in Europe for inward investment, but their route network would be what, European regionals? Don't think that the African network is worthwhile hanging onto - because it isn't, creating more blocked worthless local currency than hard cash in SN's accounts in Brussels - and in any case Air France and BA are likely to take up those passengers. Tokyo? That route was being cut before the 11th September. North America, given the present market conditions? Don't make me laugh!

It all sounds like wishful thinking to me.

7th Oct 2001, 01:05
Approaching the Minimums,
Sorry, I can understand why the BeCA is pissed off with the situation. We all are. But I do NOT support their actions. The situation IS critical and extremely sad for a company that has so many motivated and professional people in it . But having said that, I think that from wichever way you look at it, it is clear to all of us that we have to try to be constructive instead of reactive. The only way for our airline to survive is to shrink and to be bought by a large stable airline. This will, like it or hate it, lead to job losses and severe restructuring. And in trying to motivate someone to by us, the last thing we need is a strike.
So please tell me, and I don't mean this in a cinical way because I am trying to understand what's going on just as much as you do, how will a strike secure our future and what alternative does the BeCA have for the saviour of SABENA. You cannot (rightly) criticise a managment business plan without comming up with a viable alternative. Think positive!
BTW Don't give up on the job hunting. I still think you'll make a great pilot! :) :) :)
Keep Smiling!!!

[ 06 October 2001: Message edited by: Iceman144 ]

7th Oct 2001, 01:48
Well, from my point of view Swissair and Sabena are finished. Let it be so. I admit Swissair and Sabena were good operations and i remember several jumseats in both, but this is the way economics works
Those failures are just an indication of how government politics can mismanage a business .
Only a few of the european airline dinosaurs (BA, Lufthansa, Air France, KLM) will survive the current crisis in their present form. They are overstaffed with bureaucrats. This has no future in a deregulated market. The european community of communist states is going for a common currency but each government still backs its own national airline. What an economic absurdity !

7th Oct 2001, 01:59
again, r staff in SN that short sighted to think that because their troubles are so stuffed up that any other proper airline would buy into or be part of BRU intellect, dont think so!
face it, it is a loss and get on with your lives and let the successful airlines around you succeed. it goes beyond commercial sense, it is a way of life in belgium. if you stuff up in business, someone (government etc) will bail you out. get a grip!

Cisco Kid
7th Oct 2001, 02:29
Many great airlines are disappearing ,this is a forum for those with an interest in aviation,but please letīs spare a moment to think about all those TOP QUALITY employees who will soon be joining the lists of the unemployed ,& stop pointing the finger ,although strategies were misguided ,not to say criminal,it has to be said that the bloated organisations were brought down by the banks,who control the finance,which in turn controls the markets,see you in the dole queue!

7th Oct 2001, 04:53
Hello there,

let me introduce myself my name is #$@%^ !@#$& (damn something Ďs wrong with my keyboard). I graduated a couple of months ago and haven't been able to find a job since and believe me, I've tried just about everything. I am not a BeCA member (I said I support them!). My position on the Sabena waitinglist is my only shred of hope left, so you can understand my precarious position.

By nature I am against striking. Believe me Iíd prefer to be sitting there somewhere above the clouds sipping my coffee with nothing else to worry about then the weather at our destination and which hostess to invite for a drink tonight and I know a lot of guys who did strike and they feel the same way. You just donít realise how bad the situation is when pilots of an airline that is on the edge of bankruptcy, decide to go on strike knowing that this will cost millions of euros and further damage your companyís already very fragile image. But understand one thing these guys are fighting for their jobs, I didnít hear you guys critisize our dear LH-collegues when they were striking for more money!!!

But how can you carelessly fly off when you know your management is carefully dismanteling the airline you love working for. These guys strike because they see no other option! What would you do if your beancounters came up with a plan you know wouldnít make it in a million years? And even worse they arenít even willing to listen to your opinion on it. Itís take it or leave it.

In whose positon would you prefer to be? Mr Muller, who is a very intelligent and capable man (unfortunately also a puppet carrying out orders),whoíll find a new job in no time or the pilots who see their airline going down the tubes fast, with NOWHERE else to go. Where do you think these guys will go? The captains with enough hours
can go to the far east maybe, but what about all the co-pilots? There are no opportunities out there so theyíll just join me and the other unemployed. My guess is weíll be aiming for the 900 to a 1000 number if sabena really goes bust (250 guys like me, CityBird thatís another 150 and then letís say about 50% of SN). A 1000 pilots on a jobmarket as tiny as Belgian, beautiful!
I think these guys are striking as a cry for help, a last way out.

Now about SN being critically ill, I agree 200%. Itís been that way for several years. And instead of giving the patient a new heart, they íve kept reviving him with billions of belgian taxmoney. But theyíve never actually taken a shot at changing the airlines structure and long term planning. The one time they do make a profit (because of luck) the decide to spend billions on a new type of airplane. The pilotcorps was in favour of sticking with boeing, purchasing a dozen of the NGís would Ďve done the deal. Pilots would hardly need any additional training and by accident you also have one of Europeís leading 737 maintenance specialists, your own SN technics. But no, the genius management, the overzelous SR and the Belgian governement (which is an assembly of airline strategy geniuses, they think) decide we should order a couple of those new flying nintendoís, against the advise of those who do have clue. They were so enthousiast about their choice they decided to replace the entire 737-fleet which was long from overdue. I know itís very easy to comment in hindsight but itís just to illustrate how this airline is run, they donít listen to the people!

This brings me to Mullers business plan (=BP), have any of the guys critisizing my previous post an idea of what this is about. The bottomline is they want to create a kind of low cost carrier carrying business pax over europe in 50-searter planes. And they want me to fly it, for 72.000 Belgian francs before taxes. With the great belgian social system, that wonít leave me enough to pay back my training, so I have to take a second job in the weekends and keep living with my parents until Iím forty! Iím willing to sacrifice a lot for flying, but this is a disgrace. So thank you BeCA for sticking up for me!

Since Sabena sought protection against itís creditors, the belgian governement has gone completely beserk. New genius plan, they want a new airline in a month. Get real! Itís been two months since they announced the BP, after talking about the plan for over 4 months (without consulting any of the employees representatives on their thoughts, ideas,Ö.). And in those two months since the B.P. their arm-twisting politics have been able to get a yes from the unions. And now thereí going to build a new airline in one month, oh please.

SN is terminally ill with cancer, that cancer is itís mangement. They shouldíve cut that out a long time ago, but now itís too late. So they decide to pump in another couple of billions, they Ďre lost before theíre spent! I too, agree that every airline in peril should be able to the same type of assistence SN keeps getting, but thatís not up to the BeCA to decide! A lot of you are saying why should you have national airline, I think so. Do you think I stand a chance as a belgian pilot ( even though I speak 4 languages) in your jobmarket? If SN dissapears without a decent replacement BRU will keep itís passengersnumbers. But itíll be foreign airlines flying all those Belgian pax around. Take for example Ryanair, very eager to take part in our transportmarket, but I have no knowledge of any Belgian pilots there, in fact I donít even know anyone whoís even had a response on his application although they were looking. So what future is there for me without a belgian airline in an already oversaturated belgian and now also worldwide oversaturated pilotjobmarket.

So please stop critising the pilots organisation, for they have the same critisim on whatís been happening with Sabena and a lot more (for those of you who understand dutch or french take a look at this and step out of ignorance: http://www.beca.be/bp/). Or even better attend a BeCA meeting and voice your opinion!

I say again, this is my humble opinion on the whole matter (well funded on 10 years of following SNís doís and doníts) and not the BeCA speeking!

So yes I'm in favour of BeCA fighting for their and my future, you don't like it your problem.

The Guvnor
7th Oct 2001, 12:38
Approaching_the_minimums - like it or not, the business plan put forward by Cristoph Muller is the only viable option for SN.

DAT is the only part of the SN group that has a future - the rest is junk. Surely it doesn't take much to realise that with a company that made profits twice in an 88 year history, there is something fundamentally wrong?

And yes, regional airlines pay a lot less than long haul. That's a fact of life too - part of the consequences when you're flying smaller aircraft with fewer passengers and you have to keep the costs down.

And yes, certainly I jumped up and down when the Lufthansa (and Delta etc) pilots demanded higher pay. It was sheer insanity with a recession around the corner - and I was right.

Every time BeCA went on strike - against the wishes of the other official unions (incidentally, BeCA isn't even recognised at SN! :rolleyes: :rolleyes: ) it caused the company to lose an average of Ä3m per day in lost revenues and additional expenses - let alone the numbers of passengers they seriously p1ssed off and who are unlikely to return. Great work, people!

I agree that SR's great Kinsey inspired idea was a mess up - but it could have worked, had they not been so typically Swiss and gone for the cheapest deals around. The companies they acquired were real dogs that should have been put down many years ago and unfortunately for SR the scale of the problem was too big for them.

I've read through the BeCA website and I have to say that whilst there are a few eyeopeners, the majority of it is distortions and a lack of understanding of the big picture of what SR (and indeed, in a different way, BA) were trying to achieve.

National airlines are an outdated, anachronistic concept and hopefully one of the benefits of this economic shake-up will be the permanent grounding of some of the sicker ones - AF, IB and OA spring to mind.

Finally, the last time I checked, Belgium was apparently a demorcracy. (It's also one of the most corrupt nations in Europe, but that's beside the point). Despite the fact that both NATO and the EU are based there, it has the lowest level of inward investment of any EU country - precisely because of its outdated social laws. What you people need is a Margaret Thatcher to come in and shake things up - and until that happens you'll live in a third-rate 1970s country. If the people of Belgium want that to change, then they should be able to make it so. Obviously, they don't! :rolleyes: :eek: Until those changes happen, the chances of Ryanair - or anyone else - wanting to set up Belgian operations and employ Belgian staff are very slim indeed. Remember all the problems Virgin Express - which Richard Branson described as his worst investment, ever - had; especially when it tried to introduce the Irish operation with a much more realistic cost base?

Get your house in order, and Belgian aviation may have a future. Until then, the only recommendation I can give is to look elsewhere.

7th Oct 2001, 13:20
The Guvnor

I am amazed about your broad knowledge in the aviation field and the world in general, amazed that a man of your knowledge even has the time (lots of time if you judge by the amount of postings) to voice your opinions about the aviation industry while setting up different airlines . What I do not like is you calling Belgium the most corrupt nation in Europe just as a little sideliner; I wonder (like Approaching_the_minimums) what you have against Belgium or who upset you at Sabena at times!

The Guvnor
7th Oct 2001, 13:28
Don't know too much about the Belgian political system, do you, finalchecksplease? As one of the more public cases, you might like to have a look at the Marc Dutroux case and some of his connections ... and why he still hasn't come to trial! :D :D :D

neil armstrong
7th Oct 2001, 14:20
Finalchecksplease, Sorry I have to agree with the Guv.on Belgium being the most corrupt country in Europe.

-Looking at how Sabena has operated over the last decades it is obvious that everything has to change to make it work, inc. Managment, fleet but in a lot of cases also the mentality of the employees who never had to think commercially till now.
This can’t be achieved in 1 month but will take years.
The question is can you expect the taxpayer to pay for this? I don’t think so.
So the pilots know that the new plan is not gone work, but they also have to understand that there is no other way out.
If the world situation wasn’t what it is at the moment there would have been a good chance that parts of the company would have been bought by other airlines but I don’t see that happen at the moment, I hope to be proven wrong on this because I don’t wish anybody unemployment.


7th Oct 2001, 15:06
I agree with you, guys, Belgium is the most corrupted country in Europe, that's well known (Agusta, the Royal Family, Dutrou,and so and so...).
In the aviation business, same thing, off course! I can assure you, I'm flying there!
This country, and these airlines are suffering from:
1- the struggle between Waloon and Flamish for running all the big business
2- The Flamish nationalism, almost national socialism
3- The incapacity of managing an abnormal situation, they have to find a Belgian solution, when a simple one does already exists.
4- the filling of living in the Europen main country, and the center of the World, even more than the Frenchmen!
5- the obvious need of foreign skilled workers in every economical sectors, versius a national pride.

Let's stop there, my computer is heating too much !!

"Look thru the window !" :rolleyes:

7th Oct 2001, 16:52
Damn man , you dissapoint me! You used to be a lot more openminded!
1. LH strike: I agreed with them striking. The company at that time was doing good and so they had the right to come up for their right to enjoy the benefits!
2. 72000 Bfr/ month= 45000 after tax + 25000 allowances = 70000 BFR/month. 1100 Pounds. OK, that is maybe not a lot of money if you have a loan to pay of. But I can tell you that I know people who are 10 years older than you, sold their house to pay for their flying training, have wife and 2 kids and can FORGET about living with mommy and daddy,OK. And by the way no diploma to fall back on... Their option: Work on a f****'n factory line for 40000/ month (NO allowances) or fly a fancy 50 seater for 70 000/month! This is the REAL world buddy!
3. Belgians working abroad. Being a Belgian myself, I can tell you I know a lot of Belgians work abroad as pilots. And that includes low hour First Officers. The problem is that a lot of you guys are stuck with a Belgian licence, wich is a good one, but not if you want to work abroad. And I know that it is not your fault that you are stuck with it now. But I can tell you now: go to Lufthansa or BA or even Air France and you will see that foreigners are about a million times more welcome there than they are in Belgium. (Yes, we do have contract pilots, but how many do you know have a permanent contract?)
And you still haven't answered my question: If you think the BeCA (with all respect for all the fantastic work they've done in the past!) is sticking up for your job, what alternative have they come up with to save SABENA??? Let the government inject another 50 billion BFR? I think not. It couldn't do that if it wanted to... However painfull and sad it is, you CANNOT keep SABENA the way it is. You need to restructure and that is going to hurt. I cannot tell you how much I wish it wasn't so, but we live in a competitive world. No way out... :(
4. About the Airbus deal: The Swiss knew they where going to make money on this because they where leased via a company that is part of the Swissair group. So you can imagine the leasecosts where totaly over the top. So you are right there. But stop talking about people "who have a clue" please. Pilots manage aircraft. Managers manage companies. If we would folow the traditionalist point of view of many of the "people who have a clue", we would still be flying DC3's now. The choise of an aircraft type is something extremely complex and is about a lot more than just the retraining costs. Although I do think pilots should have a say in the choise of a new aircraft type, I also think that a lot of them would make that choise completely with their harts, not their brain. I think most of the times, you should let both have a say,... (BTW I still think the"Flying Nintendo" , as you call it, rules bigtimes)
5. The judge declaring the bankrupcy protection has clearly stated that an extention of the two month period would be possible if the company would come up with a new plan. It is physically impossible to start a new airline in a month. Everybody knows that. We need to attract new investors, soon. Imagine you where an investor. Would you put your money into SABENA the way it is today? Of course not.
But being negative isn't going to help us the slightest bit.

wild turkey surprise
7th Oct 2001, 19:20
erm....guv, hate to take the edge off your arguments as i'm sure you know what you're talking about (sic), but Ryanair's first continental european base was Charleroi, Belgium. And they employ local cabin crew.

7th Oct 2001, 19:48
APPROACHING THE MINIMUMSHaving worked for DAT and seen the BCA in action,I can tell you that they are living in the dark ages.
They act like Arthur Scargill and his union that was in the UK many years ago.Yes we used to have a Coalmining industry years ago,but the unions militant ideas got the better of it and we know longer produce it.

Freedom to work in the EEC,Not in Belgium mate if he is not in the union or a belgy lets get rid.Cushy rostering patterns,only 1 sector allowed after a nite stop and on and on.

So welcome to the real world mate if it is a job in Belgium you are looking for then try the Belgium Air Force cos thats all that will be left!!!!

AS to the Bca I raise a glass of Boddys and Say to Mr Bastane Cheers Mate what goes round comes around!!! :D

7th Oct 2001, 20:01
Quick solution....since airbuses are built with the direct support of state aid....not incidental like boeings, why don't airbus just give airbuses to e.u. airlines to help them stay alive...then when they make money (if ever) then they can pay for the airbuses, who then in turn pay back the "loans" they got to develope/build the planes. ;)

The Guvnor
7th Oct 2001, 20:28
Wild Turkey Surprise - I meant that FR would not do a Virgin and set up their own company there - having a base is very different! And as for pilots - suggest you ask MO'L what his opinion of BeCA is and whether he'll be employing any Belgian pilots. It's rather amusing! :D :D :D

8th Oct 2001, 10:18
Looks like Branson/Virgin group might be the white knight...see airlinepilots.com for the news