Lufthansa-ITA Deal Would Increase Competition In Italy, Spohr Says

Credit: Joe Pries

BRUSSELS—Lufthansa Group CEO Carsten Spohr remains confident an agreement will be reached regarding its potential acquisition of ITA Airways during the exclusivity period, which ends April 24.

“We are not hours away from a solution, we are weeks away,” Spohr told Aviation Daily on the sidelines of the Airlines For Europe (A4E) summit in Brussels.

In January, the German airline group submitted its long-awaited offer for ITA Airways to the Italian government.

“ITA has lost a lot of money,” Spohr said. “That has to be reflected into the evaluation in the final part of the discussions we have.”

Spohr is still hoping to be able to sign an agreement within the exclusivity period. “There are always many issues [in such a deal], the next big agreement we have to find is on the price reflecting ITA’s losses. I am very positive we have that agreement.”

ITA released its 2022 financial figures March 29, revealing a net loss for the year of approximately €486 million ($526 million), on revenue totaling €1.6 million. ITA said its 2022 result “was consistent with the company’s start-up status in a market that was still weak in the first months of the year due to the continuing Covid pandemic.” ITA also cited the rise of fuel prices in relation to the Russia-Ukraine war and the worsening of the Euro/USD currency exchange as headwinds.

Nonetheless, Spohr said the recent talks “have confirmed our conviction that a turnaround is possible once we have integrated ITA into the Lufthansa Group.”

Spohr is traveling to Rome on March 30 to meet with Italy’s Minister of Economy and Finance.

“It is important to know,” Spohr said, “Milan is the third-largest catchment in Europe, after Paris and London. Italy is the third-largest aviation market in Europe after the UK and Spain. And it is the third-largest economy after France and Germany in the EU. The incentive is there that the market needs to remain connected with the world, which Lufthansa can do together with ITA.” 

Both sides know this, he added, and that is why Spohr remains positive with the logic behind finding a solution.

The Italian market has seen LCCs such as Ryanair—which has a 40% market share, dominating. In Italy more than 60% of seats are offered by LCCs. “That’s why we need a healthy ITA because competition remains,” Sphor said. “That’s why hopefully also the European Commission understands that ITA being part of the Lufthansa Group will increase competition within Italy and not decrease it.”

Kurt Hofmann

Kurt Hofmann has been writing on the airline industry for 25 years. He appears frequently on Austrian, Swiss and German television and broadcasting…