BMI reportedly stated a second bidder has signed a term sheet to acquire bmibaby, which is being sold as part of International Airline Group’s (IAG) purchase of BMI from Lufthansa. As reported by CITY A.M., an unnamed European Union-based airline group has tabled an offer to acquire 100% of the business. The term sheet is non-exclusive, and allows an anonymous UK-based company that made an approach Jan-2012 to continue talks. BMI “plans to sign a definitive sale purchase agreement with one of the parties in the next few weeks”, it said. The latest proposal matches the first in comprising 100% of bmibaby, including its aircraft, with the bidder also planning to maintain the carrier's staff and network, and the brand to be retained for a period and its head office to remain in the East Midlands.
BMI signs term sheet with second bidder for the acquisition of bmibaby
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Many of Europe's leading airline groups are acknowledging the importance of establishing dedicated incubator and/or accelerator programmes to innovate in digital technology. On 24-Apr-2017 IAG announced that it had invested in two new technology companies – Esplorio and Vchain Tech. These are the first two investments under its Hangar 51 accelerator programme in partnership with L Marks, an innovation specialist and early stage investor.
IAG's investments followed easyJet's announcement earlier this year that its partnership with the incubator Founders Factory had selected two travel startups for its accelerator programme. The Lufthansa Group established its Innovation Hub in 2014 and started a new partnership with Californian startup investor ‘Plug and Play’ in 2016. While these three groups chose external partners, Ryanair has its inhouse Labs team, set up in 2014. Air France-KLM is alone among Europe's big five airline groups in not having a distinct and dedicated digital incubator/accelerator programme, but it has recognised digital's strategic importance.
Much of the airlines' rhetoric concerning these developments suggests that they are trying to associate themselves with the forces of disruption, but this will take more than rhetoric. CAPA has argued previously that the airline industry has been slow to prepare for disruption, but some are at least making a start.
SunExpress: "Lufthansa's biggest strategic project"
The Turkish leisure airline SunExpress and its German subsidiary SunExpress Germany have historically had a fairly low profile, certainly among European air travellers. Nevertheless, their combined total of 7.9 million passengers puts SunExpress in the top 20 European airline groups in 2016, ahead of Brussels Airlines.
Jointly owned by Turkish Airlines and Lufthansa, SunExpress and its German counterpart brought about a consolidated result that fell into loss in 2016 as passenger numbers and revenue both declined. When the observer scratches beneath the surface of the headline figures, a picture of significant strategic change at SunExpress Germany starts to emerge.
The larger Turkish SunExpress has maintained its focus on Turkey-Germany routes, whereas SunExpress Germany has abandoned this country pair. It has instead developed leisure routes from Germany to elsewhere in Europe and in North Africa, in spite of not having an obvious competitive advantage in those markets. Within these new market areas, SunExpress Germany has undergone substantial changes in its route portfolio. Lufthansa wetleases capacity from SunExpress Germany for its Eurowings low cost operation and this may help to make some sense of these outwardly random network changes.