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AVIATION

Lufthansa balks at paying more for Austrian Airlines

The head of the German flag carrier Lufthansa, Wolfgang Mayrhuber, said on Thursday that he saw no reason to change the purchase price for Austrian Airlines (AUA) despite EU Commission questions.

Lufthansa balks at paying more for Austrian Airlines
Photo: DPA

“We made an offer and we stand by it,” the Lufthansa chief executive told a press conference in Berlin.

He added that the German carrier expected European Union (EU) approval for the takeover at the current price.

In December, Lufthansa agreed to buy 41.56 percent of AUA from the Austrian government for the symbolic sum of €366,000 ($470,000).

That amount could nonetheless increase to as much as €162 million depending on the Austrian airline’s future performance and the level of Lufthansa shares over the next three years.

Another condition of the deal was that the Austrian state absorb €500 million of AUA’s debts, or more than one third of the total €1.4 billion.

On Thursday, the EU Commission expressed doubts about the price paid by Lufthansa and AUA’s market value, as well as about the debt assumption by Vienna which might constitute market distortion for rival airlines.

The Franco-Dutch airline Air France-KLM and Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair have both files complaints with the commission regarding the AUA sale. But Lufthansa feels that restructuring the Austrian airline is “absolutely necessary,” and it is not willing to do without aid offered by Vienna.

Austrian Finance Minister Josef Proell said meanwhile that his government will do all it can to ease the commission’s concerns.

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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