Swiss International Air Lines has agreed to a takeover by Germany’s. The total purchase price is 310 million euros.
The two companies’ boards said a majority of their shareholders had backed the deal.
That announcement came shortly after approval by the Swiss government, which is the biggest shareholder, with a 20% stake. It is the largest aviation merger since Air France took over KLM last year forming the world’s top airline group, in terms of revenue. Recent opinion polls in Switzerland show most people back the plan though many share the misgivings of one Swiss traveller who said: “Personally, I think this is a pity for Switzerland, but financially it is probably the best solution and Lufthansa is probably the best possible partner. It makes sense for Europe.”
The combined passenger totals for Lufthansa and Swiss last year was 60.1 million compared with Air France-KLM’s 65 million.
British Airways was in third position, 35.5 million and the low cost carrier Ryanair is creeping up, with 26.6 million passengers.
Under the merger plan, Swiss will retain its name and Zurich will become Lufthansa’s third largest traffic hub. The German carrier will set up a holding company like that used by Air France and KLM.
That allows allow them to merge yet maintain separate operations and brands and to protect their respective foreign landing rights.