Austrian regional carrier Intersky will not only expand its fleet and network but also target airline acquisitions following the acquisition of a little under half of the airline's shares by Hans Rudolf Wöhrl's Intro Group.
Yesterday Nuremberg-based Intro Group took over 49.8% of the airline, split between Intro Aviation (24.7%) and Austrian-registered holding company Intro Beteiligungs GmbH (25.1%).
Intro Aviation's managing director, Peter Oncken, has taken an additional 25.1% stake through his company, PEON Beteiligung GmbH, while Intersky managing director, Renate Moser, and her husband, Rolf Seewald, who jointly owned the airline with other family members, will retain the remaining 25.1%.
The combined majority stake of Moser/Seewald and Vienna-based Intro Beteiligungs GmbH ensures that the Bregenz-headquartered but Friedrichshafen, Germany-based airline remains an Austrian company.
The size of the transaction was not disclosed, but Oncken said the investment "went into the millions".
"Intersky is to become the operational and organisational basis for the restructuring and build-up of additional routes and whole airlines," said Wöhrl. He added that the maintenance division, sales organisation and airline operations could "serve as a platform for other national and international businesses".
Early last year, Wöhrl set up German charter carrier Flynext on the back of former business aviation operator Alpha Exec. He sold the airline to Germania's majority shareholder Ingrid Bischoff within four months of its operational start in June.
Wöhrl took over Deutsche BA (DBA) in 2003, German airline GEXX in 2005 and Dusseldorf-based charter carrier LTU International in 2006. All were sold to Air Berlin in 2006 or 2007.
Most recently, Intro Aviation became interested in British Midland's low-cost subsidiary BMIbaby. The company asked to gain access to the latter's books in January. BMI is trying to sell the division by the end of March.
Intersky's operations are to be expanded and its fleet of three Bombardier Dash 8 Q300 aircraft replaced with larger turboprops. Moser told Flightglobal that the company was looking at the ATR 72-600 or Dash 8 Q400, because its current 50-seat aircraft were too small.
She added, however, that although the airline favours the ATR 72-600, Intersky will only buy new aircraft and thus a deal depends on securing delivery slots.
Under the new ownership structure it will be possible to replace the existing fleet with three or four new aircraft over the next one or two years, she added.
In a company statement about the Intro investment, Moser wrote that Intersky's survival depended on establishing additional routes and introducing larger aircraft to realise "urgently needed synergies." This would not be possible as an independent entity "despite great enthusiasm and goodwill for the company".
Moser and Seewald founded Intersky in 2001. It currently employs around 100 staff members.