Lufthansa eyes struggling Etihad partner Airberlin after reporting best ever first half

Lufthansa is interested in taking more ‘wet lease’ aircraft from Airberlin, a partner airline of Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways. (Reuters)
Updated 03 August 2017
0

Lufthansa eyes struggling Etihad partner Airberlin after reporting best ever first half

LONDON: Lufthansa wants to lease more aircraft from Airberlin, the struggling partner of Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways.
The German flag carrier would also be interested in taking part of the Airberlin business under the right conditions, as Etihad reviews its so-called equity alliance strategy that saw it invest in struggling European carriers including Airberlin and Alitalia.
Lufthansa chief financial officer Ulrik Svensson made the disclosure on an analyst call after the carrier reported the best first-half results in its history.
It comes just weeks after Etihad sold its minority stake in European regional carrier Darwin Airline, the first divestment since launching a strategic review.
“We are looking at a number of different scenarios when it comes to Airlberlin, and we would indeed be interested to take on more wet leases,” Svensson said on Wednesday.
“We are very interested in Airberlin, and if the right conditions are there we would be interested in taking part of their business of course.”
Etihad’s minority stakes in its codeshare partners, which include Airberlin and Italy’s Alitalia, have come under scrutiny as the Abu Dhabi-based carrier grapples with losses.
Etihad last week reported a net loss of $1.87 billion for 2016, despite carrying record passenger numbers, as losses from some of its equity alliance partners hit home.
It took total impairments of $1.9 billion, including an $808 million charge on exposures to equity partners, mainly related to Alitalia and Airberlin.
Svensson said three main challenges remain around an investment in the low-cost carrier: Its cost base, debt pile and potential cartel issues. He ruled out any interest in Alitalia, but said the wider Italian aviation market holds potential.
The Italian government has invited non-binding offers for Alitalia, which has been beset by persistent financial woes and industrial relations strife.
The airline collapsed into administration in May, more than two years after former Etihad chief executive James Hogan pledged to “reinvent” the struggling Alitalia brand.
The Italian government has agreed to spend €600 million ($709.8 million) keeping Alitalia afloat for six months, and hopes to find a buyer by year-end.
While as many as 10 parties have submitted non-binding bids, some are believed to be driven by gaining intelligence rather than representing serious interest.
Lufthansa raised its profit target for the year to above last year’s €1.75 billion. Other European carriers, including British Airways owner IAG and low-cost carrier EasyJet, have also boosted profit targets.


China’s Huawei to launch 5G at Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt

Updated 22 min 38 sec ago
0

China’s Huawei to launch 5G at Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt

  • The Chinese firm will introduce the technology at the 74,000-capacity Cairo International Stadium
  • The stadium is set to host 10 games including the final of this summer's Africa Cup of Nations

CAIRO: Huawei will roll out its 5G phone network for the first time during this summer’s Africa Cup of Nations, Egypt’s minister of communications and information technology said on Sunday.

The Chinese firm will introduce the technology at the 74,000-capacity Cairo International Stadium, which is set to host 10 games including the final during the competition.

“Egypt wishes to cooperate with Huawei in the field of artifical intelligence, technology transfer and with 5G,” Amr Talaat said.

Huawei is the leading manufacturer of equipment for next-generation 5G mobile signal with almost instantaneous data transfer that will become the nervous system of Europe’s economy, in strategic sectors like energy, transport, banking and health care.

However, some Western nations have barred it amid fears Beijing could gain access to sensitive communications and critical infrastructure but Huawei denies all these accusations.

The biennial Cup of Nations takes place between June 21 and July 19 in the north African country.

Defending champions and original hosts Cameroon are in a tricky group alongside Ghana, Benin and Guinea-Bissau.

Egypt was awarded the staging rights in January, following the decision to strip Cameroon of the finals due to delays in preparation.