FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Germany’s Lufthansa (LHAG.DE) has financial firepower to take part in future consolidation of Europe’s airlines, its chief executive told Boersen-Zeitung in an interview published on Saturday.
“We have a certain financial cushion,” Ulrik Svensson said, saying 3 billion euros (2.65 billion pounds) in liquidity would be left over after paying for investments in Air Berlin (AB1.DE) and putting money into its pension fund.
Lufthansa agreed last month to buy large parts of insolvent Air Berlin for 210 million euros to quickly expand its Eurowings budget business, consolidating its position as German leader by buying its closest rival.
Svensson said Eurowings would be operationally profitable as early as this year. He said it would make no sense to split up Eurowings or list part of it, as Lufthansa still had big plans for the business that would be harder to execute with co-owners.
Asked about Italy’s ailing flagship carrier Alitalia, for which Lufthansa has put in a bid, Svensson said it was “hard to tell” how the offer was being received. “I’ve recommended to analysts that they do not yet include a possible Alitalia deal in their models,” he said.
Svensson added that reports that Lufthansa was offering 500 million euros for Alitalia were incorrect, but he did not elaborate.
Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; editing by Clelia Oziel