The corona crisis could endanger the rescue of the Condor holiday airline, which is in the protective shield process. According to SPIEGEL information, it seems questionable whether the mother of the Polish airline LOT, the Polish Aviation Group (PAG), is sticking to the takeover announced in January in view of the unclear prospects in aviation.
SPIEGEL learned from negotiating circles that the scenario of a postponement or even cancellation was addressed by those responsible. LOT did not want to comment on request. Condor says that majority approval of the protective shield plan is expected. The final meeting of creditors takes place this Thursday. According to the local court in Frankfurt, the date has not been canceled.
The protective shield plan for Condor was submitted to the court on February 11 – the coronavirus crisis was much smaller in Europe. Condor left unanswered on request whether the greater spread of the virus had already been taken into account in the plan. A spokeswoman said that “the protective shield procedure is still expected to be completed by the end of March and the bridging loan to be repaid on time.”
PAG could at least have guessed that it was facing a potential problem. The acquisition was announced on January 24; Two days earlier, the risk of coronavirus in the EU was raised from low to moderate. It was only on January 30 that the World Health Organization spoke of an international health threat. The timing of the takeover is also considered unfortunate in the Polish media. It is absolutely impossible that the epidemic will not affect Condor’s earnings, the newspaper quotes “Gazeta Wyborcza” an aviation expert. The Polish newspaper “Fact” assumes that the acquisition of Condor would have been significantly cheaper today than a month and a half ago.
LOT itself is also affected by the corona virus. In addition to restrictions on flights to Italy, the Polish route will suspend all flights on the Warsaw-Beijing route until April 25. Flights from Budapest to Seoul are also not scheduled to take place until April 8. It could also be problematic that LOT also and above all focuses on growth in long-haul connections to Asia.
Polish newspaper “Gazeta Prawna” speculates that LOT may need state aid. However, since the airline had previously received state aid of 400 million Polish zlotys (around 93 million euros), further support would violate EU law and a special regulation would be needed.
At Condor, there are currently no problems in flight operations caused by the virus. A Condor spokeswoman points out that the occupancy rate is currently 90 percent on average, similar numbers are expected for the coming weeks. Since, with the exception of an Italian connection to Sicily, one does not fly to risky countries, not a single flight has been canceled and no deletions are planned. All Condor aircraft are in use. At the moment, however, travelers wanted “more flexibility” when planning their vacation, they responded with free rebooking for new bookings.
After all, all responsible antitrust authorities have now approved the takeover of Condor by PGL, so that at least the way is clear from an antitrust perspective.