Thomas Cook airline Condor sold to Poland’s LOT

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Via Deutsche Welle

Polish carrier LOT said on Friday it would take over Condor, the German airline owned by the bankrupt travel operator Thomas Cook.

LOT Chief Executive Rafal Milczarski said the deal meant “there was no more uncertainty” about Condor’s future after it was kept afloat with a German government loan.

Milczarski refused to say how much LOT had offered for Condor, adding, “We are going to pay a fair price, a price that will enable us to pay off the KfW loan in its entirety.”

He was referencing the €380 million ($419 million) bridging loan granted by German public investment bank KfW in September after Thomas Cook declared bankruptcy, which is slated to be paid back later this year.

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Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki hailed the purchase saying: “Up until now foreign companies have been taking over Polish precious assets, now it is the other way round!”

The companies said Condor, which competes with Lufthansa and TUI fly would continue to operate under its current management and that the Condor brand would be expanded to other European markets.

The deal needs to be approved by EU competition authorities before proceeding in April.

Pairing doubles passenger numbers

The merger brings together two firms of almost the same size, with the Polish firm booking revenues of €1.9 billion in 2019, compared to Condor’s €1.7 billion in its 2018-19 financial year.

Each served around 10 million passengers over the same periods.

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Condor operates a fleet of more than 50 aircraft while LOT has a fleet of 80 aircraft.

Last week, Condor struck a deal with its flight attendants on plans to cut 150 of its 2,400 cabin jobs. That followed an earlier deal to cut 170 jobs in overhead operations.

Announcing the deal, Condor boss Ralf Teckentrup insisted that there would be no further layoffs.

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Cabin crew union UFO reacted positively to the deal, calling it “very good news” and hailing the deal to avoid job cuts.

“As two strong airlines we’ll be much stronger together, developing a profitable business is the most important way to secure jobs for workers,” he said.

He added that holidaymakers can now “safely plan” their 2020 summer vacations with Condor.

One of the world’s oldest travel agents, Britain’s Thomas Cook collapsed in September leaving hundreds of thousands of people stranded around the globe. Its German subsidiary filed for insolvency a week later.

mm/sms (AFP, Reuters)

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