Lufthansa reportedly offered several carriers, including British Airways, flybe and Virgin Atlantic, the opportunity to examine the finances of bmi and conduct limited due diligence (The Times, 08-Sep-2009). Lufthansa has made no formal announcement of its plans for its stake in bmi. Meanwhile, Unite has urged bmi and Lufthansa to informing bmi’s employees over the future of the carrier (abtn.co.uk/Dow Jones, 08-Sep-09). The union stated it also plans to approach Virgin Atlantic and British Airways.
Lufthansa opens books on bmi
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Chinese long haul secondary city air routes: BA's Chengdu exit does not reflect the broader market
The fastest long haul airline growth is not occurring with Gulf airlines but rather, with services to and from secondary Chinese cities. It is not a secret that local incentives and subsidies, generally common in any market, are especially large in price and duration for secondary Chinese cities. An airline might expect over a third of revenues to be subsidised. This drastically alters the business case in a low-margin industry, hence the proliferation of secondary city services. This extreme dependence on subsidies raises the question of how long governments are willing to issue generous subsidies, and how many routes can be sustainable without them.
British Airways' decision to exit its only secondary Chinese route to Chengdu, in Jan-2017, might suggest the music is ending and the secondary long haul bubble is popping. There is added colour given the recent UK-China air service agreement expansion, and Brexit/British pound depreciation overhangs.
BA's exit does confirm market fundamentals: secondary city yields are low, and some routes are ahead of their time. Yet a number of factors unique to British Airways suggest caution in concluding that BA's Chengdu exit could foreshadow other withdrawals.
Airberlin: airline's latest, more radical, restructuring gets help from TUIFly and Lufthansa
Airberlin's operations are to be split into three. First, there will be a core network airline with hubs in Berlin and Duesseldorf, deploying approximately half the current Air Berlin Group fleet. Second, there are plans for a new leisure airline, combining part of airberlin's fleet with TUIFly. Third, a significant part of airberlin's fleet will be wet-leased to the Lufthansa Group.
As a result of these moves the operating fleet of the core airberlin network airline will slip from second to third in Germany and risks becoming subscale. Eurowings will rise from third to second, and the expanded new TUIFly will go from fifth to fourth (overtaking Thomas Cook Group's Condor).
For several years airberlin has been unable to break the cycle of losses and successive restructuring initiatives, in spite of repeated bailouts from airberlin's 29% shareholder Etihad. A number of details are still to be clarified. These include the detailed route networks for the different operators, the network airline's strategy for feed, and the balance of charter versus scheduled flights in the new leisure airline. However, for now and with help from competitors and Etihad, airberlin looks to have ensured at least some kind of future.