Lufthansa seeks to acquire major stake in ITA Airways – Business Traveler

There was a lot of excitement in Germany this week following a report by Italian Il Messaggero that Lufthansa was considering taking a 15 to 40 percent stake in ITA Airways. [paywall]

This development should not surprise our readers.

Last November, we reported that ITA Airways was in favor of joining the Lufthansa group of airlines and Star, even though it had only just tied the knot with rivals Skyteam.

Board member Alfredo Altavilla revealed that his airline’s Skyteam arrangement was only valid for one year. He said: “We (ITA) are a pretty bachelor who has a lot of admirers. We hope Lufthansa will be one of the beautiful and wealthy admirers who might be interested in ITA Airways.

Now it looks like Mr. Altavilla’s wish is about to come true.

The investment in ITA Airways would give Lufthansa better access to the Italian market.

Here in London, you might think the UK is Lufthansa’s most important market (apart from its home market and the US) but in fact it’s Italy (according to Lufthansa).

Speaking on the sidelines of last year’s IATA AGM in Boston, Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr reportedly said: “We believe that the natural home of a new Italian national airline is a partnership with Lufthansa.

There are a large number of service flights from Italy to the Lufthansa group‘s neighboring hubs in Frankfurt, Munich, Zurich and Vienna.

Many of them are operated by Verona-based Air Dolomiti, which carries passengers between secondary (Italian) destinations and Lufthansa’s twin hubs in Frankfurt and Munich.

So it’s no surprise that Air Dolomiti is owned by Lufthansa and its CEO is a former Lufthansa executive.

So what would a Lufthansa-ITA Airways connection mean to the passenger?

In short, it would mean better connection possibilities and hopefully stronger ITA Airways.

Most Italian business trips originate in northern cities. These are all closer to Lufthansa hubs compared to Amsterdam, London or Paris.

High-income business travelers are lucrative customers. In the case of Italy, if they wanted to sponsor their national airline, they would be spared a throwback to Rome on long-haul flights.

On the other hand, Lufthansa is expected to improve ITA Airways’ Rome hub, which is well located for services to Africa and the Middle East.

Developments are awaited with interest.

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