Thomas Cook’s in-house airline serving Belgium is to be absorbed into Brussels Airlines.

All 160 pilots and cabin crew, all airport slots and two aircraft will move across in the deal which is due to be in place by November.

Thomas Cook Belgium’s remaining three aircraft will be redeployed across the wider Thomas Cook Group but 40 ground staff roles will be made redundant.

A collective consultation process has been initiated with the airline’s workers’ council.

The two companies will work together to assess the opportunity to launch new long-haul flights to North America, the Caribbean, Africa and Asia over the next three years.

The proposal builds on a 15-year relationship between Thomas Cook Belgium and Brussels Airlines and is subject to consultation with the Belgian workers’ council and regulatory approvals.

Thomas Cook Belgium, managing director, Jan Dekeyser, said: “By extending our successful partnership with Brussels Airlines, Thomas Cook Belgium will offer customers from Neckermann, Thomas Cook and Pegase 20% more flights to some of the most popular sun and beach destinations.

“Across our brands, we will work together with Brussels Airlines to offer a tailor-made travel experience and build the most attractive holiday offering for Belgian consumers.

“Our extended partnership is consistent with Thomas Cook Group’s strategy as we develop closer relationships with selected third parties to work with us to support profitable growth.”

Bernard Gustin, chief executive of Brussels Airlines, added: “The combination of Brussels Airlines’ network and expertise with Thomas Cook’s holiday business will further improve the customer offer of Brussels Airlines.

“On completion, Brussels Airlines will double its sun and beach destinations to 51 with the addition of Cape Verde, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Egypt as brand new destinations on the flight schedule.

“We feel very optimistic about the opportunities for further expansion as we grow our business to the benefit of both customers and the Belgian economy.”