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COVID-19: EU approves bailout for German airline Lufthansa

COVID-19: EU approves bailout for German airline Lufthansa

FILE PHOTO: Airplanes of German carrier Lufthansa are parked at the Berlin Schoenefeld airport, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Schoenefeld, Germany, May 26, 2020. (REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch)

BRUSSELS: The EU's top competition authority approved the massive bailout of Lufthansa by the German government on Thursday (Jun 25), saving one of the world's biggest airlines from bankruptcy, but under conditions.

The European Commission said an injection of 6.0 billion euros by Berlin to keep the company afloat was allowed, but that Lufthansa would have to make room for rivals at the Frankfurt and Munich airports to ensure fair competition.

The overall rescue comes to nine billion euros (US$10 billion) with Lufthansa also receiving three billion euros in public loan guarantees.

"This substantial amount of aid will help Lufthansa weather the current coronavirus crisis, which has hit the airline sector particularly hard," EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said.

The plan is part of an overall rescue that became a reality on Wednesday, after a billionaire shareholder reversed course and backed the plan.

Heinz Hermann Thiele, who owns 15.5 per cent of Lufthansa's stock, had repeatedly voiced scepticism about the deal - to the dismay of Lufthansa management, employees and unions.

In the massive rescue, the German government is taking a 20 per cent stake in the company, though thousands of jobs across the company will be lost.

Lufthansa also owns Austrian, Swiss and Brussels Airlines, making it a linchpin of European travel.

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Source: Reuters/kv

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