JetBlue and Lufthansa join forces

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JetBlue Airways began discussing in late January possible commercial co-operation with Lufthansa after the German carrier completed its purchase of a 19% stake in the low-cost carrier.

In an interview in early February JetBlue chief executive Dave Barger told Airline Business: "We've only just begun the commercial discussions on what that could look like. But I'd be very surprised if we're not doing things jointly in some manner over the course of 2008."

dave barger, jetblue

"I'd be very surprised if we're not doing things jointly in some manner over the course of 2008"

Dave Barger
Chief executive, JetBlue

Lufthansa first announced in mid-December its intent to acquire the 19% stake for $300 million. At the time Lufthansa chief executive Wolfgang Mayrhuber indicated he would not have pursued the deal unless co-operation between the two was likely but said details would only be discussed later.

Barger says: "The sheer fact this investment closed as quickly as it did speaks to the intent between both companies [to co-operate], whether that is commercial or supply chain or whatever."

Barger says Lufthansa approached JetBlue last summer but "discussions have taken place between JetBlue and Lufthansa over the last couple of years that really solidified the base for even the interest in Lufthansa to make this type of investment".

He says JetBlue, which posted a small profit in 2007, did not need the cash but "with where oil is going you can't ever have a strong enough balance sheet".

 

For more on Dave Barger's views about the Lufthansa deal watch our video interview at http://wwwflightglobal.com/barger