The German government could be on the verge of nationalizing the Condor, a former subsidiary of the late Thomas Cook group. The airline was initially supposed to be acquired by the owner of LOT Polish Airlines, but the agreement reportedly fell through.
Condor has survived the bankruptcy of its parent company, the tour operator Thomas Cook, when it went bankrupt in September 2019. The German airline stayed airborne thanks to a €380 million bridge loan from the German government, which was approved by the European Commission a month later.
Its future appeared guaranteed when in January 2020, Polish Aviation Group (PGL), the owner of LOT Polish Airlines, announced the acquisition of Condor for about €300 million. PGL expected the combined airlines to carry nearly 20 million passengers per year, making it “one of the leading European aviation groups.”
But in the wake of the coronavirus epidemic, the sale arrangement might fail, as the German government disagrees with the financial conditions requested by PGL, reports Reuters. “LOT has some issues with the deal financing,” a source claims.
If the prospect falls through, the German state could step up and nationalize Condor. That change of status would only be temporary though, protecting the assets of the carrier until the coronavirus crisis passes. Once the conditions are more agreeable, a new sale process should be initiated.
A week prior, Condor applied for an additional €200 million in state aid as it continues operating repatriation flights. Founded in 1956, Condor operates a fleet of 58 aircraft and employed 4,900 people before the crisis. Its core destinations are the United States and the Mediterranean area.
It would be the first nationalization in the aviation industry due to the coronavirus outbreak. Other carriers, such as Air France, could also face nationalization in order to support its recovery after the crisis.