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Aviation News Lufthansa says not interested in taking over Alitalia

Lufthansa says not interested in taking over Alitalia

AFP
27 APR 2017 | 359 words

German airline group Lufthansa said Thursday it is not interested in snapping up troubled Italian carrier Alitalia, as Rome hunts for a buyer after workers rejected a bailout plan.

"We are clearly not there to buy Alitalia," finance chief Ulrik Svensson said during a teleconference with analysts on Lufthansa's first-quarter financial results.

Italian government ministers said Wednesday they would not oppose a takeover bid by the German behemoth, as they announced that Alitalia would be sold "to the highest bidder".

Lufthansa, which already owns a stable of carriers including Austrian Airlines, Swiss, Brussels Airlines, and Eurowings, on Thursday reported a net loss of 68 million euros between January and March -- a worse performance than the same period last year.

The result comes after a record year for Frankfurt-based Lufthansa, in which it booked profits of 1.75 billion euros ($1.90 billion) despite fierce competition from low-cost competitors and Gulf airlines such as Etihad.

Loss-making Alitalia's future is up in the air after its workforce rejected a restructuring plan which management had presented as the only alternative to bankruptcy.

Etihad, which owns a 49 percent stake in Alitalia, and other shareholders had made staff acceptance of the plan a precondition for their participation in a two-billion-euro recapitalisation plan involving a combination of loans and new shareholder financing.

But despite earlier proposals being watered down in negotiations with unions, over two thirds of staff voted to reject them in a ballot on Monday, in which more than 90 percent of employees took part.

The company's board on Tuesday asked the government to appoint administrators to find a purchaser or organise the winding up of the company.

Etihad also holds a stake in struggling German airline Air Berlin, which has delayed the release of its 2016 annual results -- widely expected to show the firm in a poor light -- until Friday.

Lufthansa has been mooted as a potential buyer for Air Berlin in the German press if the Gulf carrier decides to review its strategy in Europe.

 
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