LOT Polish Airlines buys Thomas Cook’s German unit Condor

Condor Airbus A321 © Condor

LOT Polish Airlines made the best offer for the purchase of the German affiliate of defunct Thomas Cook Airlines, Condor.

The choice fell on PLL LOT, which appeared in the group of favourites only a few days ago. German media and the Aviation Market announced the Polish carrier’s interest in purchasing Condor on Thursday, January 16. It turned out then that the Polish Aviation Group (Polska Grupa Lotnicza, PGL) which includes LOT Polish Airlines submitted an offer for the purchase of a charter carrier belonging to Thomas Cook.

Thomas Cook announced in September 2019 that it was going into liquidation. The carrier operated a fleet of 103 aircraft operating to many holiday destinations. In Germany, it operated under the Condor brand. Condor alone serves nearly 7 million customers annually and runs to 80 destinations around the world.

The bankruptcy of the Thomas Cook group initiated the Condor crisis. At first, the German carrier sought financial help from Berlin to maintain its operations and received a bridge loan of EUR 380 million from the government. Several suitors sought to buy the carrier: Lufthansa, Indigo Partners investment group, International Airlines Group (IAG), as well as Ryanair Holdings.

In addition to LOT, Condor’s managers held talks with two other groups of bidders until the last minute. One of them was the American financial investor Apollo and the other was the British Greybull fund. In both cases, the issues of applicable international law were extremely important. According to European aviation regulations, Condor can operate long-distance routes, such as lucrative routes to the Caribbean, only if most of the shares are in European hands. This excludes the American, but also the British candidate after Brexit.

Currently, both the Lufthansa Group and LOT Polish Airlines are members of the Star Alliance. Now LOT will gain a much stronger position on the domestic market of the German national carrier, which may intensify the competition.

The current Condor fleet consists of 51 aircraft: 9 Airbus A320s, 10 A321s, one A330-200, 15 Boeing B757-300ER and 16 B767-300ER. Condor operates scheduled flights to destinations in Africa, the Caribbean, Europe, the Indochina Peninsula, South Asia and North America. Its main operating base is located at Frankfurt airport, but it also has bases in other German cities, such as Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Hanover, Leipzig, Munich and Stuttgart.

Recently, Condor modified its logo and its livery, essentially the tail of the aircraft, to distinguish itself from the former Thomas Cook branding.

Official press release

PGL selected as strategic investor for Condor

  • Polish Aviation Group (PGL), the owner of LOT Polish Airlines (LOT), announces the acquisition of Condor, putting a successful end to the protective shield proceedings
  • PGL will ensure continued stability and certainty for customers, partners and employees
  • The combination of LOT and Condor within PGL creates one of the leading European aviation groups with Germany and Poland as core markets
  • Condor will become the centre of PGL’s leisure strategy with a focus on growth in Germany as well as adjacent markets, building one of the leading European leisure airlines
  • Going forward, Condor will continue to operate under the leadership of its successful management team and with its own brand as Germany’s most popular leisure airline, offering the same quality, service and reliability to its customers
  • The bridge financing provided by the KfW and guaranteed by the German Federal Government and the State of Hessen will be repaid in full

The acquisition of Condor fits perfectly into PGL’s strategy. It also secures the future of Condor and offers stability and great opportunities to its employees, customers and business partners. We want to develop Condor’s iconic brand in Germany and also introduce it to other markets in Europe. We wholeheartedly welcome all Condor employees to the PGL family and invite them to build together one of the greatest aviation groups in Europe,” says Rafał Milczarski, President of the Management Board of PGL.

We are pleased that Condor, Germany’s most popular leisure airline, has gained in PGL and LOT stable, experienced and dynamically developing partners who secure the future of our business. Together we will serve twice as many passengers, thus forming one of the largest aviation groups and the leading leisure airline group in Europe. Our partners and customers can safely plan their holiday flights with Condor,” says Ralf Teckentrup, Chief Executive Officer Condor.

The combination of LOT and Condor will create one of the leading European aviation groups carrying about 20 million passengers per year. Condor will continue to act under its current leadership while gaining from expanded connectivity and operational synergies between the airlines. Condor customers will continue to benefit from the quality, service and reliability of Condor, which have made the company the premier brand for leisure travel and the preferred partner for tour operators in Germany and beyond.

The offer to acquire Condor submitted by PGL has been selected as the most attractive for Condor, its employees, partners, suppliers and customers. The transaction is expected to close by April 2020 once customary antitrust approvals are obtained and Condor exits the protective shield proceedings. PGL’s investment will allow Condor to fully repay the loan received from KfW.

PGL is the leading aviation company in Central and Eastern Europe. PGL owns LOT Polish Airlines – one of the oldest and fastest-growing carriers in Europe, with two dynamically developing hubs in Warsaw and Budapest. LOT operates on more than 120 routes with a strong footprint in Central and Eastern Europe, including 18 long-haul connections to North America and Asia. In 2019, LOT carried more than 10 million passengers, more than twice as many as 4 years before. It operates a fleet of 80 aircraft including 15 Boeing 787 Dreamliners. PGL group generated revenues of around 1.9 billion euros in 2019.

Condor has been flying its guests to the most beautiful holiday destinations in the world since 1956. Every year, around 9.4 million passengers fly with Condor from eight German airports to around 90 destinations in Europe, Africa and America. In the 2018/19 financial year, Condor Flugdienst generated an operating profit of around 57 million euros and sales of around 1.7 billion euros. Condor operates a fleet of more than 50 aircraft, which are maintained by its subsidiary Condor Technik according to the highest safety standards at its Frankfurt and Düsseldorf locations. According to a survey conducted by the German Institute for Service Quality on behalf of the news channel n-tv, Condor has repeatedly been named Germany’s most popular holiday airline for many years.

Lazard and Pekao Investment Banking acted as financial advisors and White & Case as legal advisor to PGL. Rothschild & Co acted as financial advisor and Noerr as legal advisor to Condor.

André Orban: M. Sc. Engineering
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