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Rescue plan: Lufthansa returns to the skies

Rescue plan : Lufthansa returns to the skies

Lufthansa plans to resume flights to 20 holiday destinations from mid-June. There is still no agreement on a rescue plan.

The state rescue of the German airline Lufthansa may not yet be cut and dried, but the discussion about the medium-term positioning of the company group is already gathering momentum. Federal Economics Minister Peter Altmaier (Christian Democrats) demanded that state participation should only be planned for the short-term. The FDP (Liberals) denounced the plans as ‘state interventionism’; whilst the left-wing Linkspartei urged the federal government to have a strong say in corporate policy. According to a newspaper report, Lufthansa is planning to resume flights to around 20 holiday destinations in June.

Altmaier is calling for an early state withdraw following the planned rescue of Lufthansa. “The state will pull back as quickly as possible so that Lufthansa can then manage on its own,” Altmaier told the newspaper ‘Saarbruecker Zeitung’ on Saturday. This also applies to “similar cases, about which we may have to make decisions in the future,” he said.

The minister defended the planned entry of the state against criticism from the opposition. He said that Lufthansa was a strong, established company, which had got into difficulties through no fault of its own due to the corona crisis. “I have not yet heard a serious voice advocating that Lufthansa and all its employees be sent into insolvency,” Altmaier said.

The exact form of the rescue package for Lufthansa is still under intensive negotiation. “We are making sure that we stabilise the company and handle taxpayers' money responsibly, but do not interfere in the individual operational decisions of the company,” he explained. However, the condition that no dividends or bonuses are to be paid remains in place. Altmaier agrees with Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (Socialist Democrats) on this.

Altmaier received support from CSU state group leader Alexander Dobrindt. “After the crisis, Lufthansa must be able to enter into international competition dynamically,” Dobrindt told the newspaper ‘Bild am Sonntag’. This also means, he added, “that the federal government must relinquish its participation as quickly as possible”.

Views about the state aid differ amongst the opposition parties. Deputy leader of the FDP parliamentary group Michael Theurer criticised Altmaier's announcement to the AFP news agency as “pure wishful thinking”. He said that “state interventionism” was the wrong recipe for crisis management, as it “structurally reinforces and cements waves of bankruptcies and mass unemployment.”

Fabio De Masi, deputy leader of the left-wing parliamentary group, spoke out in favour of the state having a strong say in the case of aid for Lufthansa. “If the state joins Lufthansa, jobs must be saved, dividends must be cut and the shifting of profits to tax havens must be prevented. A silent partnership is insufficient for this”, De Masi explained.

Lufthansa is already making plans for the coming months and aims to slowly rebuild its route network which collapsed due to the corona pandemic. In the second half of June, around 20 destinations are to be served from Frankfurt alone - including Heraklion (Crete), Rhodes, Dubrovnik, Faro, Venice, Ibiza and Malaga, reported the ‘Bild am Sonntag’, citing the group of consolidated companies. Majorca, the Germans’ favourite holiday island, will be served much more frequently from mid-June.

The new June flight plan should reactivate a total of 80 additional aircraft that were previously grounded due to the coronavirus pandemic, the paper reports. As of 1 June, 160 of a total of 760 aircraft will be in service with Lufthansa, Swiss and Eurowings. The current worldwide travel warning is due to be lifted in mid-June.

Lufthansa has suffered massive declines in sales due to the corona pandemic and is reliant on financial support. The aid plan announced on Wednesday provides for the state to support the company with nine billion euros in total.

(Original text: afp, Translation: Caroline Kusch)