The resumption of scheduled traffic at Brussels National airport, which has been gradually progressing since June 15, has been hampered by the bankruptcy of ground handler Swissport Belgium.

Swissport International, which is owned by HNA Group, said its Belgian unit had filed for bankruptcy in early June after "many years of loss-making operations" and "numerous local efforts to turn around the business [which] failed". The ground handler underlined that its Belgian units were reliant on liquidity injections and that while "some progress" had been made in their restructuring, "the global market collapse in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis has blocked the narrow path to recovery".

"We had to acknowledge that there were no viable options left on the table and no positive prospects on the horizon," Swissport Group President and Chief Executive Eric Born said.

The bankruptcy has affected Swissport's ground handling and cleaning units, but not its cargo operations at Brussels National or Liège.

The ground handler's bankruptcy, just days before the planned restart of scheduled operations at Brussels National, presented a new challenge to airlines. Swissport was the handler for, among others, Brussels Airlines (SN, Brussels National), which currently has a 29.1% market share by capacity at the airport, according to the ch-aviation capacities module. The second- and third-largest airlines at Brussels airport, TUI fly (Belgium) (TB, Brussels National) and Ryanair (FR, Dublin Int'l), have contracts with rival handler Aviapartner.

Due to the limited number of flights operated at this time, most airlines have managed to adjust to their ground handler's malaise. However, Alitalia (AZ, Rome Fiumicino) has since decided to extend its suspension of services to Brussels due to the collapse of Swissport and presently serves the Belgian capital using bus connections from its flights to Amsterdam Schiphol.