EasyJet ‘in talks to buy German airline’ to duck Brexit

EasyJet is in talks to acquire TUIfly, a board member of the German carrier said Friday, as the British no-frills airline looks for ways to keep flying freely within the EU after Britain quits the bloc.

EasyJet 'in talks to buy German airline' to duck Brexit
Photo: DPA

Talks have been going on “for some time,” said Martin Locher, an employee representative on TUIfly's supervisory board, at a Frankfurt press conference.

TUIfly was in discussions with EasyJet as well as “another airline in a European country outside Germany” about a possible takeover, he went on.

German business weekly Manager Magazin reported on Thursday that EasyJet was eyeing TUIfly – currently a subsidiary of leading tour operator TUI – as a takeover target as it looks for ways to soften any potential Brexit fallout.

EasyJet chief executive Carolyn McCall had ruled out takeovers just a few months ago, Manager Magazin reported, but with post-Brexit uncertainty looming she “wants to avoid a big risk for the firm with the surprising U-turn”.

EasyJet already became the first UK carrier to activate a contingency plan after the June 23 vote to leave the EU, when it announced in July it had applied for an air operator certificate (AOC) to continue operating routes throughout the bloc.

Acquiring TUIfly could allow British-based Easyjet to secure a foothold in the EU and escape ill effects as the United Kingdom quits the economic bloc.

As an EU member, British airlines have until now been covered by the EU's Single European Sky system, which lifts trade restrictions on airlines with their headquarters inside the 28-member union.

Beyond escaping Brexit, adding TUIfly's network and 41 aircraft to EasyJet could allow the British carrier to build on its lines in Germany and mainland Europe.

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Lufthansa delays flight from Minsk over ‘security warning’

German airline Lufthansa said it delayed the departure of a flight from Minsk to Frankfurt on Monday after it received a "security warning", one day after a forced landing over Belarus.

Lufthansa delays flight from Minsk over 'security warning'
Lufthansa flights await takeoff at Munich Airport. Photo: Christof Stache/AFP

The flight eventually took off for Frankfurt after renewed checks, with all passengers on board.

“The flight took off 10 minutes ago,” an airline spokesman told AFP at about 13.30pm GMT, one day after a forced landing over Belarus. “All passengers were on board as planned.”

The airline announced the delay on Monday morning, saying local Belarusian authorities had wanted to carry out a security check. 

“We are following the directions of the local authorities who are searching the plane again before departure and carrying out security checks again on
passengers,” an airline spokesman said.

Lufthansa said all luggage and freight had been removed from the aircraft, in which there were 51 people including five crew members.

“We regret the inconvenience for the passengers but the security of our passengers, crew and the plane take top priority at Lufthansa,” the spokesman said.

Soon after Lufthansa released its statement, Minsk airport said on its Telegram channel that “all necessary measures” to check the plane and its
passengers had been completed.

“The information about a terror attack, that was received on the airport’s email, wasn’t substantiated,” it said. “The plane is being readied for take-off, luggage is being loaded, boarding has been announced for Lufthansa flight LH1487 Minsk-Frankfurt.”

The security alert came one day after a Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius carrying dissident journalist Roman Protasevich was diverted while in
Belarusian airspace over a supposed bomb threat.

Accompanied by a Belarusian fighter jet on the orders of strongman Alexander Lukashenko, the plane landed in Minsk where Protasevich, a
26-year-old who had been living in Lithuania, was arrested along with his Russian girlfriend.