Lufthansa wants to get rid of Brussels Airlines as a separate brand, instead dissolving it fully into its low-cost Eurowings division. While not a terrible idea, I still do no think it is the wisest one.
Brussels runs a split operation. Longhaul flights still offer full-service in both cabins while shorthaul flights in Europe offer a choice of full-service business class or no-frills economy class. Brussels Airlines already uses the Eurowings booking platform.
Brussels Airlines has carved a niche for itself in the African market, with a robust route network to several former Belgian colonies. These routes, once served by Sabena and SN Brussels and now Brussels Airlines give the airline a unique position in Europe.
While Eurowings could certainly develop a similar identity and has introduced a fairly nice longhaul business class product, it’s not like Brussels Airlines has a bad reputation. Quite the contrary, Brussels Airlines is well-regarded.
I flew Brussels Airlines from Brussels to New York and enjoyed the experience very much.
In terms of North America travel, Brussels serves New York, Toronto, and Washington, DC.
I get what Lufthansa is trying to do. Developing Eurowings as a European (not just German) brand serving both shorthaul and longhaul markets makes sense. Eventually Eurowings may turn into a global brand.
But at the same time, Lufthansa is already encountering fierce pushback in Belgium for its plans to jettison Brussels Airlines as a separate carrier. There is more than national pride at work here. There is fear over labor cutbacks and the supply chain ripple effects. Those are valid concerns.
While Lufthansa should not be a charity to Belgian labor unions, it seems to me it could accomplish most of its objectives without destroying Brussels Airlines. Brussels Airlines could mimic Eurowings in every way if Lufthansa so desired, but keeping the brand alive keeps alive a marker of quality. I think that is worth preserving.