Danish entrepreneur Lars Thuesen, who is 100% owner and chairman of Danish wet-lease operator Jet Time, has acquired 20% of airBaltic from German businessman Ralf Dieter Montag-Girmes.

Private investor Montag-Girmes, who has a background in corporate finance, originally acquired the 20% stake in 2015 following a four-year privatization process.

Montag-Girmes already knew former Scandinavian Airlines CFO Thuesen indirectly and he said the sale, which was completed last week, was “very straightforward.”

“This was a very large investment, which ate up a lot of liquidity,” Montag-Girmes told ATW in an exclusive interview. “When this deal came along, it suited my plans very well. The sale has nothing to do with the performance of the airline, quite the contrary. Everything is going very well and the airline is performing well above a very aggressive budget.”

Likewise, airBaltic is very satisfied with the performance of its Bombardier CSeries 300s, which are proving very popular with passengers and performing above manufacturer specifications, Montag-Girmes said.

Jet Time already performs Boeing 737 wet-lease work for airBaltic under a contract that was secured independently of the ownership change.

AirBaltic is looking to become the reference carrier for the Baltic region under its Horizon 2021 strategy. Under the leadership of airBaltic CEO Martin Gauss, the airline has returned to profitability and is rapidly expanding its operations in Tallinn, Estonia and Vilnius, Lithuania.

The Latvian government is still seeking a strategic investor for airBaltic, as it looks to further privatize the airline and strengthen operations from the country’s main Riga hub.

Victoria Moores victoria.moores@penton.com