Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.

Airlines

Portugal to Sell Majority Stake in National Airline TAP

5 months ago

Portugal’s Finance Minister Fernando Medina kicked off the long-awaited sale of TAP Air Portugal Thursday with the announcement that the government would sell a 51% stake in the state-owned airline to the highest bidder.

In addition to monetary value, the Portuguese government seeks an investor that wants to grow TAP and its Lisbon hub, guarantee jobs, and bring additional flights to secondary airports in the country, including Porto. The government did not specify how much it values TAP at; Portugal nationalized the airline as part of its Covid aid package to the carrier during the pandemic.

“We want large-scale investors from the aeronautical sector, alone or in consortia headed by them, that are aligned with our strategic goals,” Medina said. “We do not seek to attract pure investments of a financial nature that are looking to get into TAP to then sell it or sell parts of it and we wish to reiterate TAP’s strategic contribution to the country.”

A TAP Air Portugal plane. (Reuters)

Air France-KLM, International Airlines Group — owner of British Airways, Iberia, and other airlines — and the Lufthansa Group have all expressed interest in TAP. The Portuguese airline’s Lisbon hub is the ideally located for Europe-Latin America connections, as well as for connectivity to Africa. The hub is seen as a sought-after prize among the large European airline group’s as they jockey for an ever greater share of the market.

“TAP has a very strong position geographically at the southernmost point in Europe towards South America, and they do have a very strong network to Brazil with 11 cities online nonstop out of Lisbon,” Air France-KLM CEO Ben Smith said in May. “So it’s very interesting, and could be potentially eventually accretive to our bottom line performance.”

Portugal will first select advisors for the sale first with the aim to finalize the selection criteria by the end of the year, Medina. Talks with interested buyers will also begin but, based on the timeline he outlined, a deal is unlikely until sometime in 2024.

Airlines

Air France-KLM Orders $16 Billion Worth of Long-Range Airbus Planes

5 months ago

Air France-KLM will add up to 90 new long-range Airbus A350 aircraft to its fleet in the coming years, under an order unveiled Monday.

The aircraft, which include 50 firm A350-900s and -1000s plus 40 purchase rights, are worth roughly $16.2 billion, based on Cirium Ascend’s full-life base values. Deliveries will begin in 2026 and run through at least 2030.

The deal still requires approval of the Air France-KLM board.

“It is the perfect fit for the network needs of the group and boasts outstanding performances: it is a quieter, more fuel efficient and more cost-effective aircraft compared to previous generations,” Air France-KLM CEO Ben Smith said in a statement.

Air France A350 takeoff
Air France-KLM has ordered up to 90 more Airbus A350s. (Airbus)

Air France-KLM was reportedly considering both the Airbus A350 as well as the Boeing 777X and 787 for the order. The planes will replace older Airbus A330s and Boeing 777s in the group’s fleet.

The Air Current reported earlier in September that, due to range considerations owing to the closure of Russian airspace to European airlines for flights to Asia, Air France-KLM was leaning towards the A350 for the order.

The deal is the latest win for Airbus from Air France-KLM. In December 2021, the group ordered at least 100 A320neo family aircraft for its KLM and Transavia brands. The planes will replace older Boeing 737s at both airlines. And earlier that year Air France-KLM was a launch customer for the new A350 freighter.

Air France already operates 22 A350-900s and has firm orders for 19 more aircraft. With the latest deal, Air France-KLM will eventually operate at least 99 A350s, which will make it one of the largest operators of the plane globally.

Airlines

Lufthansa Reaches $350 Million Deal for Italy’s ITA Airways: Report

9 months ago

Lufthansa finally has a deal. For ITA Airways that is, and according to reports.

The Frankfurt-based carrier will initially buy 40 percent of the state-owned Italian airline for $343-354 million (€320-330 million), according to a report by Italian daily Corriere Della Sera. Lufthansa would invest a further $537 million to raise its stake in ITA to up to 95 percent at a later date. A final agreement could be signed as soon as Thursday.

An ITA Airways Airbus A330neo
An ITA Airways Airbus A330-900. (ITA Airways)

The deal is the culmination of years of effort by Lufthansa to buy its way into the Italian market. The German carrier bid for a stake in ITA’s predecessor Alitalia as early as 2008, only to be out maneuvered by Air France-KLM. In the latest round of dealmaking, Lufthansa was counted out last year when a Certares-led consortium of Air France-KLM and Delta Air Lines was selected as the preferred bidder. But that deal fell through and Lufthansa was back in the running by December; the group made an official offer in January. Air France-KLM has, meanwhile, shifted its interest to acquiring TAP Air Portugal.

Lufthansa Group CEO Carsten Spohr has described the group as the “natural home” for ITA. Italy is Lufthansa’s largest market outside of its home markets, which include Austria (Austrian Airlines), Germany (Lufthansa and Eurowings), and Switzerland (Swiss Air). In May, Spohr said ITA’s Rome hub could be an integral southern gateway to Africa and Latin America for the group.

Lufthansa and the Italian government will need to European Union antitrust sign off before any deal for ITA could close.

Airlines

Air France Quits Offering Customer Support Via Twitter

10 months ago

Blaming Twitter for changing its terms and conditions, Air France said on Friday it would stop offering customer support via the social media platform’s direct messages for its accounts worldwide. KLM, a sister brand, has yet to make a similar move.

Update: 4pm ET: An Air France spokesperson clarified, “Twitter’s recent change in access to its API has led us to adapt our commercial policy in terms of customer relations.”

Changed pricing terms for accessing its APIs (or application programming interfaces — a way of exchanging data) is a key reason. Twitter recently changed its product offerings for business clients, creating a new “enterprise” level for commercial users that use it heavily. There’s no public price list, but quoted price hikes of thousands of dollars a month, Platformer and The Verge reported.

New York City’s subway and bus operator said on Thursday it would no longer use Twitter to post real-time service alerts because of the new pricing, the New York Post reported.

In recent years, some travelers have found it more convenient to chat via Twitter with the French flag carrier than by phone or online contact forms.

“It would really be a shame if airlines and hotels would have to stop providing support via Twitter DM as I found this to be very effective, and it has saved me on more than one occasion. Especially communicating this way while currently being on a plane works wonders.

—Sebastian Powell, a contributing editor at Loyalty Lobby

We’ve yet to see other travel brands make a similar move. We asked Twitter for comment. Here was its auto-reply:

💩

 

Airlines

KLM Wins Court Battle Against Dutch State Over Schiphol Airport Flight Caps

11 months ago

KLM has won its court case against the Dutch government, which proposed cutting flights at Schiphol Airport from 500,000 a year to 440,000 a year to reduce noise pollution.

The court stated the government did not comply with European rules, which specify a flight cap can only take effect after all measures to limit noise nuisance had been considered.

The District Court of Noord-Holland’s preliminary proceedings were brought by KLM and other airlines, including Delta Air Lines, easyJet, TUI and Corendon.

Air France-KLM CEO Ben Smith earlier this year said any flight cap would also disrupt planning for the arrival of efficient new jets better able to curb emissions. The Franco-Dutch airline group said it had invested heavily in newer planes based on foreseeable capacity at KLM’s hub only to see the goal posts move abruptly.

Dutch businesses and citizens have also campaigned against the limiting of flights to Schiphol, arguing it will simply divert the traffic to other airports, and do little to reduce aviation emissions. Some 84,000 jobs could also be jeopardized if Dutch air travel was weakened, they added.

Schiphol Airport meanwhile plans to axe late-night flights over the next two years.

Airlines

Lufthansa Makes Official Bid for Italy’s ITA Airways

1 year ago

The Lufthansa Group has made an offer to buy a 40 percent stake in Italy’s state-owned ITA Airways, it said Wednesday. The bid comes after a multi-year process, or “beauty contest” as it has been called, to find a strategic partner for ITA, and a dramatic change of fortune for Lufthansa after being counted out last August.

Financial terms of the offer were not made public but Lufthansa said Wednesday that its initial offer for a minority stake includes taking full control of ITA in the future. Italian daily Corriere della Sera has previously estimated the value of the offer to be between $250-260 million (€230-240 million). The German airline group and Italy’s Ministry of Economy and Finance must next agree to a memorandum of understanding, which would allow exclusive negotiations over the final terms of the deal to begin.

The Lufthansa Group has submitted a bid for Italy’s ITA. (Airbus)

“For Lufthansa Group, Italy is the most important market outside of its home markets and the U.S.,” the airline said in a statement. “Italy’s importance for both business and private travel lies in its strong export-oriented economy and status as one of Europe’s top vacation spots.”

Lufthansa Group CEO Carsten Spohr has previously called the group the “natural home” for ITA.

The bid is a change of fortune for Lufthansa. In August, the previous Italian government selected a bid by private equity firm Certares and including commercial agreements with Air France-KLM and Delta Air Lines for ITA. However, the new government of Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni failed to reach a deal with the Certares-led group before the exclusivity period expired on October 31. Air France-KLM has since shifted its takeover interest to TAP Air Portugal.

ITA replaced Alitalia as Italy’s national carrier in October 2021.