Lufthansa ready to fill gap if LOT or SAS fails

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Lufthansa is ready to fill the possible gap left in the European market if financially troubled LOT Polish Airlines or SAS were to shut down.

Simone Menne, chief financial officer of the German airline group, says that they have plans to expand in the Nordic countries and Poland in order to replace the lost feed if either carrier were to liquidate, at a press lunch in New York on 25 March.

"Let's assume SAS or LOT will disappear, then we have to go there because those are very very important feeder markets for us," she says.

LOT and SAS are both members of the Star Alliance and partners with Lufthansa. LOT has a hub at Warsaw and SAS hubs at Copenhagen, Oslo and Stockholm.

Lufthansa Group owns Austrian Airlines, Germanwings, Lufthansa and Swiss, and has a minority stake in Brussels Airlines.

LOT's former chief executive Marcin Pirog unexpectedly stepped down on account of the airline's poor financial performance in December. Sebastian Mikosz replaced him as chief executive in February.

SAS posted a pre-tax SKr823 million ($126 million) during the quarter ending 31 January, and reported a $445 million net loss for the financial year ending 31 October. The carrier is in the process of divesting assets, including the Norwegian regional carrier Wideroe and its group ground handling operation.

Any move by Lufthansa into either carrier's market would only occur if "we can be profitable", says Menne.