Lufthansa takes over Brussels Airlines

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The big German airline will pay EUR 65 million to acquire part of Brussels Airlines from SN Holding.

16 September 2008

BRUSSELS -- Lufthansa is to take over Belgian carrier Brussels Airlines, the two carriers said Monday in Brussels, just over two weeks after confirming they were in merger talks.

In a first step, the big German airline is to pay EUR 65 million to acquire 45 percent of Brussels Airlines from SN Holding. Lufthansa can acquire the rest between 2011 and 2014 at a market price not to exceed EUR 250 million.

Two and a half weeks ago, Lufthansa disclosed it was in takeover talks.

Announcing the deal, Lufthansa chief executive Wolfgang Mayrhuber declined to be drawn on suggestions that Lufthansa might also bid for Austrian Airlines, SAS or Alitalia.

"I'm not surprised our name is being mentioned," was all he would say. "Compared to the others, we are in relatively good shape."

Mayrhuber said Brussels Airlines would operate as "a largely independent company" in his group.

The Belgian carrier would retain its Brussels head office. The chairman of SN Holding, Etienne Davignon, said jobs at the airline company were safe.  He also added that Brussels Airlines would keep up its recently established links with JetAir of India.

Neither Mayrhuber nor Davignon would say if JetAir would be admitted to the Lufthansa-led code-sharing group, Star Alliance. Mayrhuber said he did not want to encourage any speculation: but added, "India is a major aviation zone."

Brussels Airline, which emerged from the 2001 bankruptcy of the airline Sabena and later merged with Virgin Express, has a workforce of about 3,000 and carried 5.8 million passengers in 2007.

It operates mainly within Europe and on long-range routes to Africa.

Lufthansa, which completed its takeover of Swiss in 2007, is much larger. It has 100,000 employees and carried 63 million passengers in 2007.

[dpa / Expatica]

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