March 6, 2018 / 11:41 AM / 13 days ago

Lufthansa sees Italy coming under pressure over Alitalia

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Lufthansa (LHAG.DE) expects the European Commission will put pressure on Italy to find a solution for ailing flag carrier Alitalia, the German group’s chief executive said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: The CEO of German airline Lufthansa, Carsten Spohr, during a press event in a maintenance hangar of the airline at the airport in Frankfurt am Main, Germany February 7, 2018. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski

“I am certain Brussels will increase pressure and force a solution and then we will take a look to see if it offers any chances for us,” Carsten Spohr told journalists on the sidelines of an Airlines for Europe event in Brussels.

Spohr said he expected there would be more merger activity among airlines in Europe. “Europe needs more consolidation and will see more consolidation,” he said.

Europe’s airline industry was shaken last year by the insolvencies of Air Berlin and Monarch, as well as Alitalia entering an administration process.

FILE PHOTO: People walk in the Alitalia departure hall at Fiumicino international airport in Rome, Italy July 24, 2015. REUTERS/Max Rossi/File Photo

Spohr, however, repeated that Lufthansa was not interested in Alitalia in its present form and that it needed restructuring.

British Airways parent IAG (ICAG.L) is also not interested in Alitalia, the group’s CEO Willie Walsh said at the event.

    “I think our focus on Italy is organic growth principally through Vueling,” he said, referring to the group’s Spanish budget carrier.

    Britain’s easyJet (EZJ.L) acquired some Air Berlin operations and CEO Johan Lundgren said it was busy working on integrating that at present.

    “As with Air Berlin, we will take opportunities when they are right to take,” he added.

    Reporting by Victoria Bryan and Sarah Young; Editing by Christoph Steitz and Susan Fenton

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