Poland’s troubled Lot Polish Airlines is getting a helping hand from Boeing: the US aircraft manufacturer stuck an agreement with the carrier, which had complained about losses incurred after two of its 787 Dreamliner planes were pulled from service due to faulty batteries.
Poland is thinking of saving its national airline in the same way the Czechs have – by creating a holding company uniting the loss-making carrier with a more profitable airport and ground services operation.
Will it work?
Sebastian Mikosz is a man in a hurry.
Only four days after taking over Poland’s Lot Airlines, the new chief executive (who also headed the company in 2009-10) is racing to turn around the loss-making flag carrier as quickly as possible and to put the government-owned airline on the market before the end of this year.
The hunt for a new chief for Poland’s troubled Lot airlines has put two jobs on the line – one being the prospective CEO, the other being that of Mikolaj Budzanowski, the embattled treasury minister who is under fierce political pressure to stop Lot’s losses.
The airline’s previous boss, Marcin Pirog, was fired in December after the airline revealed unexpected losses and had to turn to the government for a 400m zlotys ($130m) bailout. In all, the airline may need as much as 1bn zlotys in help to survive.
The bottomless money pit that is Lot Polish Airlines is asking for yet another handout – this time 400m zlotys ($127m), but that is only the starting point of a demand that could go as high as 1bn zlotys or more.
The airline’s need for cash took many by surprise. Lot has been making a loss ever since 2008 but had been expected to scrape out a small operating profit this year after posting a 145m zlotys loss in 2011.
By Nicholas Watson of bne
Emirates, the Gulf carrier, is preparing a new route from its Dubai hub to Poland and upgrading its connection to Russia by putting Moscow on its Airbus 380 superjumbo flight list.
While such an expansion by the world’s largest airline is a vote of confidence in emerging Europe, it’s less good news for the region’s struggling flag carriers that are desperately looking to be rescued by such global airlines.