Lufthansa Group is in talks to potentially buy routes from German low-cost carrier (LCC) airberlin, according to a report by German financial newspaper Handelsblatt.
If a deal is struck, Lufthansa would hand the routes to its LCC, Eurowings, the paper said. The routes involved would be those outside of airberlin’s Berlin and Düsseldorf hubs.
Airberlin is Germany’s second largest carrier and one of the equity-stake partner airlines of Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways. Etihad holds a 29.2% stake in airberlin, which is a member of the oneworld global alliance. But a source at Lufthansa Group told ATW that talks were being held between Lufthansa and Etihad.
Lufthansa declined to comment and Etihad said it did not comment on “rumors and speculation.”
Airberlin reported a €446.6 million loss ($485.5 million) for 2015, deepened from a €376.7 million loss the year before. Among factors that negatively impacted airberlin’s performance in 2015 was a protracted dispute over certain airberlin codeshare flights with Etihad, which Lufthansa challenged in the final quarter of 2015 and the beginning of 2016. Airberlin said the “months in limbo” until the matter was settled by a German court cost it €40 million in lost or canceled sales in the fourth quarter of 2015. The court ruled in favor of airberlin.
Sources tell ATW that Lufthansa Group is seeking to grow Eurowings rapidly—to a fleet of about 100 aircraft—so that it is sustainable and competitive against Europe’s other large LCCs.
Lufthansa Group chairman and CEO Carsten Spohr told ATW at the Star Alliance chief executive board meeting in Zurich June 4, “Most of the European low-cost airlines today are too small to be able to survive.”
Kurt Hofmann email@example.com