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Polish flag carrier emerges from turbulence
May 25, 2012 -- Updated 0907 GMT (1707 HKT)
- The Polish government has tried to privatize LOT since 2008
- LOT flies to 59 destinations and employs over 2,800 staff
- It will be the first European carrier to fly the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner
(CNN) -- The Polish government's loss-making national flag carrier, LOT Polish Airlines, has been on the block since it lost more than $260 million in 2008. But now, as it emerges from the red, a deal may be on the horizon.
"For the last 12 months we've been trying to identify the best investor for LOT, and we have [had] quite advanced conversations with potential partners," LOT's President and chief executive Marcin Pirog told Marketplace Europe.
I believe that between now and the end of summer one of them will sign exclusivity agreement
Marcin Pirog, LOT's President and CEO
"I believe that between now and the end of summer one of them will sign exclusivity agreement," he added.
Consolidation is a consistent theme across the troubled airline industry. As the economic slowdown bites and airlines face rising fuel costs and weak passenger demand, airlines mergers are shaping up as a necessary measure, according to Vaughn Cordle, chief analyst for AirlineForecasts, who spoke to CNN earlier in May.
According to Pirog, the consolidation process in Europe will continue apace. "I believe that consolidation is in front of us, not behind us, because it's still a very fragmented market," he said.
LOT was established in 1929, making it one of the world's oldest airlines. It now has more than 2,800 staff and flies to 59 destinations in Europe.
It was the first carrier in eastern Europe to fly western-made Boeing aircrafts and later this year it will become the first European carrier to fly the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
Pirog hopes that their new, bigger, fleet of Dreamliners will help them push into Asia. "In the near future we want to open new destinations in Asia to balance our North Atlantic destinations and to have more and more connections to Asia," he said.
Pirog added: "We are not only the strongest player in this part of the world, central eastern Europe, but we can be a ...very good partner for one of the biggest airlines and profitable airlines in the industry."
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