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Lufthansa to take control of Britain’s BMI

German airline Lufthansa said Wednesday it would boost its stake in British carrier BMI to 80 percent, giving it control of the company and a large foothold in Europe's biggest airport.

The increase from Lufthansa’s previous 30-percent holding in BMI, formerly known as British Midland, was the result of an option held by BMI chairman Michael Bishop to sell his stake of 50 percent plus one share to the German carrier.

Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) owns the remaining 20 percent of BMI, which holds slots at London’s Heathrow airport worth around £770 million (€970 million) and runs lucrative trans-Atlantic flights. The deal makes Lufthansa the second biggest carrier at Heathrow, the busiest European hub, after British Airways.

Lufthansa said it was obliged to make an offer for the majority of BMI shares, but the German carrier said in a statement that “this option was not expected before January 12.”

Lufthansa was understood to be paying around £318 million (€400 million) for the 50 percent stake, according to Britain’s Press Assocation. SAS has not hidden its interest in selling its stake in BMI, while Lufthansa had said in April that it was interested in taking a majority holding.

The German carrier has been mentioned in several other possible European deals and has already bought Swiss and Brussels Airlines.

The Italian government sounded out Lufthansa as a potential partner in Alitalia, and the German airline is also a front runner in bidding for the Austrian carrier AUA. That privatisation has been postponed until late December, however.

Lufthansa boss Wolfgang Mayrhuber said Wednesday that “we see the current crisis as a constructive situation and we see opportunities for consolidation.” He added that the method of BMI’s integration into the Lufthansa structure was “currently under discussion.”

Mayrhuber spoke in Frankfurt during a presentation of Lufthansa’s third quarter results.

On Tuesday, the airline cut its 2008 operating profit target to €1.1 billion ($1.4 billion) owing to “record” fuel costs, weaker demand and the global financial crisis. Its third quarter net profit plunged by 75 percent to €149 million.

Looking ahead, Mayrhuber said that “rigorous cost managment will always be on the agenda,” but added that “we do not forsee outright firings.”

MALLORCA

Lufthansa fires up ‘jumbo jet’ for surge in German tourists bound for Mallorca

German airline Lufthansa said Friday it was taking "extraordinary measures" to meet surging bookings for the Spanish holiday island of Mallorca, deploying a jumbo jet to ferry passengers from Frankfurt.

Lufthansa fires up 'jumbo jet' for surge in German tourists bound for Mallorca
Tourists enjoy the first days of summer on the island of Mallorca. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/AP | Francisco Ubilla

The group said it had seen a jump in reservations from German sunseekers in recent weeks, as concerns about the pandemic ease thanks to falling infection numbers and vaccination progress across Europe.

To meet demand, Lufthansa said it would swap the 215-seat Airbus A321 that usually plies the Frankfurt-Mallorca route for its Boeing 747-8 “jumbo jet”.The 747, also known as the “Queen of the Skies”, can carry 364 people and is the largest plane in Lufthansa’s fleet.

The super-large planes normally fly transatlantic routes but have been
mostly grounded since the pandemic upended air travel.

READ ALSO: ‘I really needed a break’: Pandemic-weary Germans find freedom on Mallorca

“Lufthansa is taking extraordinary measures in order to respond to a significant increase in booking demand for flights to Palma de Mallorca,” the airline said in a statement.

The jumbo jet will be used for four weekends over July and August, it added, Europe’s key summer travel season.

Mallorca is one of the most popular tourist destinations for Germans and is sometimes affectionately referred to as Germany’s “17th state”.

Before the pandemic, around five million German tourists visited the island
each year.

READ ALSO: ‘Germans are coming back’: Spaniards sceptical over return of tourists

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