US investor Indigo Partners is considered a favorite

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Condor engine takes off

The airline now has to find a new investor.

(Photo: imago / Christian Grube)

Frankfurt In the end it was surprisingly fast. After Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier (CDU) on Tuesday morning had still spoken of wanting to make a decision "in a few days," this fell on the same evening. The holiday airline Condor gets government help. 380 million euros are provided by the federal government and the state of Hesse as bridging loans.

You need the money to get through the winter, airline boss Ralf Teckentrup justified the request. The liquidity, which the airline had built up even for the more travel-weak winter, is tied to Thomas Cook. The parent company filed for bankruptcy on Monday night.

"4900 employees, partners and customers of Condor thank the Federal Government and the Hessian state government for their commitment," said Teckentrup. And also outside of Condor the praise for the loan approval was great. Industry President Dieter Kempf welcomed the move, "although I'm usually very skeptical about how far the state should try to rescue companies threatened by bankruptcy."

But Condor is a healthy company in itself. "With this bridging loan, the company can continue to work in the coming months," said Christine Behle, federal director of the Verdi union. Two years ago, the response was less positive. As the covenant of the ailing air Berlin With 150 million euros under the arms, the criticism prevailed. There are parallels, not just the great emotionality associated with the names Air Berlin and Condor. Both companies chose the protective shield of bankruptcy on their own to avert claims by creditors and to secure flight operations.

But while Air Berlin has been recording heavy losses for years, Condor is profitable. Condor is not compared to the Air Berlin case, Teckentrup argues: "With the 150 million euros for Air Berlin, it was clear to everyone that the company would be settled." Condor wanted to secure the future.

Condor can rely on old contacts when selling

But Teckentrup also knows: After the joy comes the work. Continuing flight operations and creating new customer confidence is a project. Another is the search for an investor. "This can be a strategic investor or a financial investor," said the Condor boss. In the first half of 2019, there had already been a sales process for the airlines. "Already there were intensive contacts with prospective buyers," says Teckentrup. So do not start at zero.

In fact, many interested parties had registered in the spring, as Thomas Cook put his airlines in the shop window. On the list were names like Lufthansa, the British Virgin Atlantic and the Portuguese charter company Hi Fly. But above all a name stands out: the US investor Indigo Partners. He had expressed interest in the airline group of Thomas Cook or parts of it.

Whether this interest still exists is unknown. But many facts speak for Indigo as a potential investor. The private equity firm is a very experienced airline investor. The portfolio includes, for example, the US airlines Frontier and Sprint Airlines as well as the Chilean JetSmart and the Mexican Volaris.

In Europe, the investor is involved in the Hungarian low-cost provider Wizz Air. Indigo wants to grow in Europe. So the company was interested in joining the Icelandic low-cost airline Wow Air. The deal did not materialize in the spring. Indigo could also solve a problem for Condor chief Teckentrup: the replacement of the outdated fleet. at airbus For example, Indigo has ordered 430 aircraft of the A320 neo family. A few months ago, the investor also ordered the long-haul version A321 XLR – 50 for its investments.

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