Feb 5, 2023
Air France-KLM, Lufthansa Eye UK Carrier Flybe: Telegraph
(Bloomberg) -- Deutsche Lufthansa AG and Air France-KLM are in talks to buy bankrupt UK airline Flybe, the Telegraph reported, without saying where it obtained the information.
Lufthansa and Air France-KLM are considering an offer because they are interested in Flybe’s seven pairs of take-off and landing slots at London’s Heathrow airport and five pairs of slots at Schiphol in Amsterdam, the Telegraph said. Media representatives at Air France and Lufthansa declined to comment.
Flybe ceased operations last month, less than a year after the low-cost airline returned to the skies after an initial bankruptcy in 2020 triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic. The airline operated seven daily flights at Heathrow, Britain’s busiest airport, to Amsterdam, Belfast, Newcastle and Newquay in Cornwall, Cirium data show.
Read More: Chaos for Travelers as UK’s Flybe Abruptly Halts Flights
The carrier’s bankruptcy administrator has just days to work out a rescue and avoid the business being wound down, the Telegraph said.
Lufthansa and Air France-KLM have been competing elsewhere of late. The German carrier last month entered talks with the Italian government to buy a minority stake in ITA Airways, the successor of Alitalia SpA. Air France-KLM also was interested in the ITA stake.
The sale of a minority stake in ITA may kick off aviation industry consolidation in Europe.
Accessing the slots in Schiphol could be of particular interest given that the Dutch airport, one of Western Europe’s four major hubs for decades, plans to limit flights to 440,000 a year from November 2023.
Air France-KLM Chief Executive Officer Ben Smith has voiced frustration at the planned capacity cap in Schiphol. The cap “was a shock” and will “damage” Amsterdam in a decision that’s “incomprehensible to us,” Smith told reporters in Paris on Jan. 26.
--With assistance from Siddharth Philip.
(Updates with no comment from Lufthansa in second paragraph.)
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