Lufthansa takes over BMI for Heathrow slots

Lufthansa announced on Monday it had reached an agreement that should finally allow it to buy British Midland (BMI) from the carrier’s dominant shareholder, Michael Bishop.

Lufthansa takes over BMI for Heathrow slots

The move is aimed at procuring around 15 percent of all take-off and landing slots at London’s Heathrow airport, the largest in Europe.

In a first step, Lufthansa is to pay Bishop ₤175 million (€207 million) to cancel a ‘put’ option that would have forced the German airline to directly buy a stake of 50 percent plus one share in BMI.

A third company, Britain-based LHBD Holding Limited is then to buy the stake for around ₤48 million, while Lufthansa acquires 35 percent of the shares in LHBD. The remaining 65 percent would be held by a British national who “is not a stategic partner,” spokeswoman Stefanie Stotz said.

She declined to identify the individual in question, while underscoring that it was neither British Airways nor Virgin Atlantic.

“After obtaining the necessary traffic rights, Lufthansa expects to be able to acquire 100 percent of LHBD,” the statement said.

It did not say how much it would pay for the LHBD shares.

Lufthansa, which already holds 30 percent of BMI, would have had to take over Bishop’s stake for about €400 million under the terms of the original contract, even though BMI is now in a much weakened state after record losses last year of some €114 million.

“With this transaction, Lufthansa is expanding its interest in an airline whose strategic asset is its control of more than eleven per cent of all the take-off and landing slots at London Heathrow, Europe’s largest airport,” the statement said.

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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