Thomas Cook to buy Lufthansa stake in charter airline

Thomas Cook to buy Lufthansa stake in charter airline

Thomas Cook has confirmed it will buy Lufthansa's 24.9% stake in German charter carrier Condor by exercising an option agreed in 2007.

The takeover, at a cash price of 77.19 million euros (£68 million), will give the Thomas Cook Group sole ownership of Condor, ending 48 years of Lufthansa involvement in Germany's biggest charter carrier.

The deal completes a turnaround in Thomas Cook strategy towards Condor, since the group was involved in talks on a joint-ownership deal with Air Berlin last year and in three-way discussions on merging Condor with Lufthansa subsidiary Germanwings and rival TUIfly which were abandoned in the autumn.

Condor operates 34 aircraft and carried 6.8 passengers in the year to September 2008, reporting a profit of £45.4 million. One-third of passengers are Thomas Cook's own, with the remainder seat-only clients and those of rival tour operators.

It is not the first about-turn in recent Condor history. The carrier was rebranded as Thomas Cook in early 2003, only to revert to the Condor name a year later.

In fact, the deal marks the final stage of an even greater turnaround, for it was Lufthansa as a joint owner of German travel firm C&N Touristic - formed from the merger of Condor and tour operator Neckermann - that bought Thomas Cook in December 2000.

The German-owned company subsequently extended the Thomas Cook name to the entire group before listing on the London Stock Exchange in 2007 following its merger with MyTravel.


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