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Aviation: Battle for Thomas Cook Airlines hots up

The airline component of the Thomas Cook empire was put on the market in February after the parent company decided to explore divestment of its flying operations to shore up its struggling holiday business. Thomas Cook runs airlines in the United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, Scandinavia and Spain. The operators currently fly a mix of scheduled seat-only services and holiday flights dedicated to the parent's inclusive tour business. Some of Cook's holiday travellers are carried on the airlines' scheduled services.

Thomas Cook's airline operations are up for sale. Several bids have been made.

By May 7, when expressions of interest had to be made, several bidders had emerged.

Lufthansa has made a non-binding bid for Thomas Cook Airlines' German business, which operates as Condor. Lufthansa has also offered to extend the deal to include Thomas Cook Airlines' UK operations. Carsten Spohr, CEO of Lufthansa, said: "We believe that we can offer Condor good prospects and maintain the business as a whole, both long- and short-haul operations." However, he acknowledged that it was likely that acquiring the entire operation could cause competition concerns.

Meanwhile, Virgin Atlantic Airways has also expressed an interest in the long-haul operations of Thomas Cook Airlines in the UK. Virgin Holidays already places some of its passengers on Thomas Cook Airlines services from Manchester to the Caribbean and the United States of America. Indigo Partners, a private equity firm that has interests in Wizz Air in Europe, Frontier Airlines in the USA and Volaris in Mexico, has also tabled an offer. However, International Airlines Group (IAG), parent of British Airways and Iberia, has ruled out making an offer.

Text © The Aviation Oracle

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