Austrian Airlines is considering taking stakes in Eastern European airlines to consolidate its presence in the region, the company’s Chief Executive Alfred Oetsch said in an interview published late Thursday in the web edition of Austrian daily Der Standard.
If the opportunities arise, AUA will consider increasing its 22% stake in Ukraine International Airlines, or taking stakes in other Eastern European airlines, Oetsch told Der Standard.
He said competition is increasing sharply in Eastern Europe, AUA’s core market, and therefore it would make good sense to step up AUA’s engagement in the region to defend its dominant market position.
Oetsch said the Ukrainian capital of Kiev is a potential hub for AUA routes.
Ukraine represents an important part of AUA’s business and “we’d like to build a solid bridgehead there,” Oetsch said.
He also commented on the fact that Aeroflot-Russian Airline (AFLT.RS) has said it could be interested in buying into AUA. “I can’t imagine any carrier from outside the Star Alliance taking a stake in AUA,” Oetsch said.
Within the Alliance, only Deutsche Lufthansa (LHA.XE), could be regarded as a possible candidate to take a stake, Oetsch said.
However, considering the already extensive cooperation between the two, Oetsch doesn’t consider it very likely that Lufthansa would make such a move, he told Der Standard.