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LOT Polish Buys German Leisure Airline Condor

LOT Polish Buys German Leisure Airline Condor

This morning PGL, the holding company of LOT Polish, jointly announced with Condor that it would take over the German leisure airline.

This marks another milestone in Condor’s chequered history which began in the 1920s when the German Luft Hansa established an airline in Brazil called Syndicato Condor. Back then Condor was the South American wing of the German airline that had established a network that covered destinations from China to Chile. With the advent of the second world war, the airline was nationalized by the Brazilian government in 1942.

As Germany boomed in post-war Europe the emerging leisure industry needed a charter airline to transport tourists to popular destinations in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. Following the decision to allow German companies to operate its own airlines by the allies in 1955, a consortium of the German Railways, cruise lines, and the new Lufthansa set up Deutsche Flugdienst which began operation with flights to the Holy Land in 1956. Regular flights to the German favorite destinations of Mallorca and Tenerife soon followed.

 

Condor and Lufthansa

 

Soon after the airline industry consolidated and in 1959 Lufthansa took over control of the airline, renamed it to Condor and merged it with a number of other leisure carriers in the coming years. The close association with Lufthansa continued for the next 50 years. One key milestone was the development of the unique Boeing 757-300 to suit the conditions of charter operations which required high-density seating with the ability to operate from island airstrips.

 

B757-300 Condor in 'We love to fly' livery

B757-300 Condor in ‘We love to fly’ livery

Condor and Thomas Cook

In the early 2000s, the focus of the parent changed and in 2009 the tour operator Thomas Cook took over complete control of Condor ending an era. Under the new owner, the airline faced a number of problems: when the branding was changed in 2013 to downplay the traditional name, business dropped as German travelers no longer identified with the airline. The overall situation of the Thomas Cook Group also meant that urgent fleet renewals required to ensure the viability of the airline were deferred. In early 2019 it conceded that it was not able to operate the various airlines it owned and put up the entire division up for sale.

Developments within the group overshadowed the sale and before a decision could be taken the parent had to declare bankruptcy in September. This had a tremendous impact on Condor: even though it had been a profitable operation with nearly 10 million passengers flying on 55 aircraft, the liquidity was gone overnight and required urgent financial support of 380 million euros to make sure that it stayed afloat.

 

B767-300 repainted in new livery with Thomas Cook removed: when the parent went bankrupt, Condor had to remove all references to comply with trademark licensing

As the airline was not able to survive alone the search for a new partner was restarted. After the initial interest of Lufthansa, two groups emerged: a buyout group led by Apollo and PGL, the holding company of LOT Polish.

In the end, PGL prevailed: the government-owned group that managed to revive the national airline from near bankruptcy in the late 2000s was deemed to be a more strategic fit. PGL intends to keep Condor independent and sees it complementary to LOT Polish to cover the leisure markets of Europe. Condor will remain headquartered in Frankfurt and maintain its close ties to Lufthansa, which includes a partnership with the loyalty program Miles & More, which also is the program for LOT Polish. Together with LOT, who transported about 10 million passengers with a fleet of 8 aircraft, the new group will become one of the larger airline groups in Europe.

 

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View Comments (4)

4 Comments

  1. aresef

    January 24, 2020 at 9:32 pm

    So this means they’re *A now? Slick.

  2. PiotrZ

    January 25, 2020 at 11:41 pm

    Are you sure it is possible for LOT to “transport about 10 million passengers with a fleet of 8 AIRCRAFT”?
    8 is the number of B787 in LOT’s fleet.
    Right now it operates 90 planes.

  3. usedtobeimportant

    January 27, 2020 at 4:05 am

    But those 8 planes are really big planes ..

  4. blue2002

    January 27, 2020 at 9:42 am

    @aresef, not they are not *A, not any more than they were while owned by LH. They were and remain part of Miles&More.

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