November 27, 2018 / 11:14 AM / 15 days ago

Lufthansa sees three Europe carriers in global 'champions league'

BERLIN (Reuters) - The chief executive of Germany’s Lufthansa (LHAG.DE) said he expects the company to take part in more consolidation in the industry that will eventually leave three global carriers in Europe.

FILE PHOTO: A Lufthansa Airbus A330-300 aircraft, March 27, 2018. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi/File Photo

“There are way too many players in Europe,” Carsten Spohr told a meeting of the Centre for Aviation in Berlin on Tuesday, noting that six airlines had gone bankrupt in the last few months.

“It is obvious that consolidation will act further and we as Lufthansa want to be part of that,” he said.

Lufthansa has been a key player in hectic M&A activity in the industry, snapping up Brussels Airlines and parts of insolvent Air Berlin last year to expand in the budget market.

Spohr said there were three major global airlines in the Chinese, American and Middle East markets and he expected a similar shake-out in Europe.

“There will most likely be three major European network carriers or groups of carriers, plus one or two low cost guys,” he said.

“Our job in Lufthansa ... is to make sure the company is fit enough to play in this league of global champions league players in our industry.”

He said consolidation seemed to be happening mostly via bankruptcy rather than airlines buying rivals as going concerns.

Lufthansa is among several airlines that have been in talks with Italy since Alitalia first went into administration.

Spohr expects some European airline brands to survive as part of broader groups, noting that passengers still loved the “Swissness” of its SWISS subsidiary a decade after Lufthansa took over the former flag carrier Swissair.

“Here in Europe brands still matter a lot,” he said.

Reporting by Emma Thomasson; editing by Thomas Seythal and Jane Merriman

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