|Lufthansa and Turkish remain quiet on Croatia privatisation talks|
Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines have neither confirmed nor denied media reports that they are in talks to acquire a stake in Croatia Airlines, raising speculation that the two Star Alliance members, along with Aegean Airlines, are indeed entering a second round of negotiations with state's privatisation consultant - the International Finance Corporation (IFC), as similar claims in the past have been shut down quickly. Following media reports in 2010 involving the German carrier and its potential acquisition of Croatia Airlines, Lufthansa was quick to deny the rumours. Andreas Bartels, the Head of Media Relations at the Lufthansa Group now says the airline cannot comment on such a sensitive matter at this time.
The Lufthansa Group, which comprises of Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian and Germanwings/Eurowings, as well as its equity investments in Brussels Airlines, jetBlue and SunExpress, has made it no secret it will seek new partnership opportunities, particularly in Europe. CEO Carsten Sophr recently said, “In Europe, the progress of consolidation in the airline industry still has a long way to go to reach the level achieved in North America, for instance. Existing partnerships are to be expanded, while new partnerships and cooperation agreements will be examined wherever they serve the strategic development of the Lufthansa Group and support its sustainably profitable course of growth”. He added, “This approach is followed both in the passenger business by reviewing further joint ventures with a regional focus, as well as in our service companies by looking at possible partnerships in the areas of logistics, MRO and catering”.
Lufthansa and Croatia Airlines have a long lasting relationship and the Lufthansa Group maintains a strong presence on the Croatian market. "Our business relationship with Croatia began the moment the Boeing 737 aircraft joined its fleet. We have been providing technical services to the airline without interruption ever since. We maintain cordial relations and have a true partnership of equals", the German carrier says. The group offers the largest number of seats out of Zagreb after Croatia Airlines and has a notable share in both Split and Dubrovnik during the summer months. Furthermore, Germany is by far Croatia Airlines' biggest country destination by seat numbers
Meanwhile, Turkish Airlines told EX-YU Aviation News that, "Any major issue concerning Turkish Airlines such joint ventures require a board decision of our company, which must be communicated to the Stock Exchange for advising our shareholders. Since we don’t have such a relevant board decision, we are not able to comment on such rumours". In 2013, the airline ruled out interest in the carrier when it was thought it was negotiating a takeover. Over the weekend, the "Večernji list" daily reported that Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines and Aegean will enter a second round of negotations regarding a possible acquisition or recapitalisation of Croatia Airlines. However, it has been noted that an international tender will take place, during which any investor will have the opportunity to place a bid, regardless of whether they participated in prior talks or expressed interest. The delayed privatisation process is expected to be finalised during the summer of 2016.