At a news conference at Vienna’s Schwechat airport to mark the closing of Lufthansa’s takeover of AUA, the German flag carrier’s chief executive Wolfgang Mayrhuber said the Austrian group would stop losing money in 2010.
“We’re currently burning money, we’re ‘cash negative’,” the CEO, himself an Austrian, said.
“We’ll be ‘cash positive’ next year. Then the aim will be to return to the black at an operating level as quickly as possible,” Mayrhuber said.
Thursday was the formal closure of the takeover of AUA by Lufthansa following approval of the deal by the European Commission last month.
The German parent said in a statement it now owned more than 90 percent of the shares in AUA. Outstanding shares could be sold to Lufthansa until September 9.
The controversial deal, under which Lufthansa acquired AUA for a symbolic sum on condition the Austrian state assumed around a third of the Austrian carrier’s debt, came under heavy fire from rival airlines.
And the EU Commission only approved it after Lufthansa agreed to concessions on several of the destinations it serves.
Mayrhuber said Lufthansa viewed the purchase as “a long-term investment and not a project for just one or two years.”
Great demands would be made of AUA’s employees, the CEO continued.
“We want red uniforms, not red numbers,” he said, referring to AUA’s bright red uniforms. “But we know we can’t expect miracles.”