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Is Lufthansa making a bid for Norwegian Air?

German airline confirms it has opened negotiations with budget carrier

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Wednesday 20 June 2018 09:39 BST
Flying high: Norwegian has a valuable portfolio of slots and a fleet of 787 Dreamliner aircraft
Flying high: Norwegian has a valuable portfolio of slots and a fleet of 787 Dreamliner aircraft (Getty)

Lufthansa’s chief executive has confirmed the giant German airline is in talks with the budget carrier, Norwegian.

Carsten Spohr was quoted by Suddeutsche Zeitung as saying: “In Europe, everyone is talking to everyone.

“There’s a new wave of consolidation approaching. That means we are also in contact with Norwegian.”

Norwegian’s share price rose 10 per cent on Monday to close at 274 Norwegian krone (£25.44), valuing the airline at over 12bn krone (£1.1bn).

The share price is lower than its recent peak in April, when IAG — British Airways’ parent company — revealed it has taken a 4.6 per cent share in Norwegian.

IAG has since made two bids to buy the entire airline. Both have been rebuffed by the board of Norwegian. Willie Walsh, chief executive of IAG, has since said that the carrier was not a “must-have target”.

Concerns have been raised about the finances of Norwegian at a time of rising oil prices and increased flight disruption.

As speculation grew about the Lufthansa interest, Norwegian made no additional comments beyond its previously released statement, which confirmed it had “received enquiries from several parties” following the IAG approach.

Conflicting theories have emerged about the reasons for the Lufthansa approach.

Acquiring Norwegian would give the German airline a significant foothold in the UK, access to valuable slots at Gatwick and a fleet of modern Boeing 787 jets.

Norwegian could dovetail well with Lufthansa’s budget brand, Eurowings, which has a rapidly expanding long-haul market — helped by the collapse last October of Air Berlin.

But there is also speculation that the main aim of the German airline is to up the price that arch-rival IAG might possibly pay for Norwegian — including a premium to keep Lufthansa off its home turf.

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