Air China express interest in acquiring stake in LOT Polish Airlines

Air China has expressed an interest in acquiring a 49% stake in LOT Polish Airlines local daily Rzeczpospolita has reported citing airline sources.

According to the report, representatives from the Chinese carrier and the Polish treasury department, LOT’s owner, will meet later this week to discuss the modalities of a possible buy-in. Earlier this year, the Treasury said it would be willing to accept a privatized LOT so long as it was able to retain control.

The talks will also centre on Air China’s plans to launch its own 4x weekly Beijing Capital-Warsaw Chopin flights later next month.

Cash-strapped LOT has been the target of three previous confirmed partnership attempts including Swissair parent, SAirGroup, which had acquired a 37.5% stake in 1999 only to relinquish the shareholding when it went bankrupt in 2002. Turkish Airlines was next in line to acquire a 20% stake but later abandoned the transaction when demands for control of the airline’s board were rejected. In 2015, Wizz Air co-parent, US investment firm Indigo Partners LLC, also came near to investing in the airline only for the deal to collapse on Warsaw’s inaction.

LOT has undergone a streamlining and restructuring process over the past four years in a bid to return to profitability. While it posted a net loss of PLN 327.1 million (USD84.9 million) in 2015, it is expected to register a net profit of approximately PLN125 million (USD32.46 million) for 2016.