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Open Letter to Sophie Wilmès – COVID-19: Supporting the future of the aviation industry and preserving pilot jobs in Belgium

On 24 April, the Belgian Cockpit Association, which is the only organisation representing pilots in Belgium, sent the following open letter to Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès, calling her to include us in the discussions about the future of aviation in Belgium.

 Dear Mrs Prime Minister,

Dear Mr Van Loo,

The global crisis the world currently faces is unprecedented and severely impacts the aviation sector. Most planes are on the ground; many pilots are jobless or temporarily unemployed. Some airlines went bankrupt, many others have already started discussing restructuring plans.

We don’t know how long this crisis will last nor how the economy will restart, but we can predict one thing: sooner or later, demand for air transport will resume and the Belgian- based aviation industry must be prepared to respond. It is therefore of utmost importance that we retain a functioning aviation sector in Belgium with the help of the government. We have to plan NOW to ensure we will be able to restart operations after the crisis.

Aviation is an essential part of a national economy, by providing significant economic contributions and high-quality jobs. Belgium, which is at the heart of Europe, will always remain an important market for aviation because of the strong local demand for air travel, both for business and leisure.

Despite drastic capacity cuts, the major European airlines (Air France-KLM, British Airways, the airlines of the Lufthansa group…) decided to keep all their staff on board, placing them in partial or full temporary unemployment. They plan for the future.

Social dialogue in these difficult times is more important than ever, in order to collectively address the issues at stake. Flight crews and airlines have the same objective: preserving a functioning working tool and therefore jobs. That is why we urge the management of every Belgian-based airline to take a socially responsible approach in the measures they take. And the government should demand them to do so as well. Especially when state aid is asked or required by those Belgian-based airlines.

BeCA is the only recognised professional organisation representing all airline pilots in Belgium. We are self-funded and politically independent. Our longstanding expertise and deep knowledge of the profession and the industry, together with our large networks at European and international levels, make us an expert partner in these discussions.

We therefore call on you to include us in the discussions about the future of aviation in Belgium and remain at your disposal for such a meeting at your earliest convenience.

Yours sincerely,

Cpt Alain Vanalderweireldt, BeCA President

Cpt Christophe Verleye, BeCA Executive Vice-President

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