Lufthansa has extended an option to acquire Brussels Airlines by three years to 2017, just as the Belgium operator draws on a €100 million ($130 million) credit facility provided by the German operator, Aviation Week has learned.

A 2009 deal that granted Lufthansa a 45% stake in Brussels Airlines’ parent company, SN Airholding, included an option to buy the remaining 55% from 2011 through 2014. However, according to Brussels Airlines CEO Bernard Gustin, Lufthansa in December reached agreement with SN Airholding’s other shareholders to extend the option a further three years.

The agreement coincides with the Belgian group’s utilization of the first tranche of Lufthansa’s credit line, valued at €45 million, as part of an in-depth restructuring effort.

Brussels Airlines’ reorganization plan, dubbed Beyond 2012-2013, is on track, and the company is “out of the danger zone,” Gustin tells Aviation Week. The carrier reported a net loss of €60.7 million in 2012, a 24% improvement on the deficit recorded in 2011, and is forecasting a further reduction in losses to less than €20 million this year and a return to profitability in 2014.

Passenger numbers in 2012 rose 1.5% to 5.8 million and seat load factor improved 2.2 percentage points to 68.7%. Enplanements on Brussels Airlines’ European network fell 1.6% year-over-year, although passenger numbers on its African routes rose 11%. The operator’s first transatlantic route to New York John F. Kennedy International Airport, which started in June 2012, “was a real success for a startup year,” says Gustin, adding that the route was “slightly loss-making” last year.

As part of its strategic review, Brussels Airlines is optimizing its European network and expanding its long-haul operations. The initiative also includes cost reductions.

The operator recently took delivery of an eighth Airbus A330. The A330-200 is leased from Air Castle and currently is being repainted by British refinishing company Air Livery. The former Swiss International Air Lines aircraft will move to Lufthansa Technik Malta in May for a retrofit with the Brussels Airlines’ widebody interior, which provides 22 seats in business class and 250 seats in economy.

Brussels Airlines currently deploys five A330-300s and two A330-200s on 18 destinations in Africa and its New York route.

The new A330 will support the launch a second transatlantic route, a five-times-weekly service to Washington Dulles International Airport scheduled to launch on June 18, and increased frequencies to Africa.

The Belgian carrier also is considering the replacement of 12 BAe Avro RJ100s, following on from last year’s decision to park of 10 Avro RJ85s and five Boeing 737-300/400s.

“We’re now discussing with our shareholder and operational partner Lufthansa about the replacement of the RJ100s. We are looking at all options, but it is my opinion we should move to a single aircraft type because we are a small airline,” Gustin tells Aviation Week. He adds that the Bombardier CSeries remains an option.