Austrian poised for Lufthansa takeover

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Austria's national carrier has been recommended to seek a takeover by German rival Lufthansa to ensure survival

Vienn-- Management consultants are advising Austrian Airlines that Lufthansa would be the best candidate to take over the ailing carrier, the Austrian daily Die Presse reported Friday.

Boston Consulting has been hired by Austrian Airlines' management to evaluate various cooperation scenarios. The consultant's report mentions Russian carrier Aeroflot as the only other viable cooperation partner, Die Presse wrote.

Austrian Airlines expects to end the financial year 2008 with losses between 70 and 90 million euros (110 and 141 million dollars), due in large part to higher fuel prices.

Lufthansa CEO Alfred Mayrhuber has repeatedly indicated his interest in acquiring stakes in the Austrian flag carrier. But he has also made clear that Lufthansa would wait for a signal from Vienna before taking any action.

Lufthansa could profit from Austrian Airlines' strong presence in Central Eastern Europe and the Middle East, from where passengers could be transported to German hubs for onward intercontinental flights.

Currently, Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines offer code-share flights on destinations in Austria and Germany. The two airlines also cooperate in airlines maintenance and pilot training.

On Monday, Austrian Airlines' supervisory board will meet to discuss Boston Consulting's report.

In August, the Austrian government is expected to authorize the sale of parts of the 42.75 per cent stake it controls via a state holding.

Austrian Airlines did not comment on the news reports, referring to a press release to be issued on Monday evening. Boston Consulting Group was not available for comment. DPA





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