Turkish denies plans for low-cost long-haul unit with Lufthansa

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Turkish Airlines is not holding talks with Lufthansa over the joint establishment of low-cost long-haul venture, the carrier has told the Istanbul stock exchange.

Its assertion directly contradicts earlier remarks by Lufthansa chief executive Carsten Spohr, who said talks were at an “advanced stage” between the two sides over the proposed partnership.

We constantly have open dialogue towards any co-operation with our Star Alliance partner Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines says in its notice to Borsa Istanbul. However, there are no projects regarding long-haul flights as mentioned in the media between Turkish Airlines and Lufthansa.

Spohr made his comments yesterday during a briefing in which he also outlined plans to consolidate Lufthansa’s Germanwings and Eurowings brands under a new Wingsholding group, of which the low-cost long-haul venture would be part.

Partnering with Turkish was one of two options, Spohr added, with Lufthansa also considering launching the venture independently. Spohr did not rule out linking up with a rival partner.

Shares in Turkish rose 2.6% yesterday following Lufthansa’s announcement, but were trading down 0.6% by midday today.

Relations between the two Star Alliance members have cooled since November 2013, when Lufthansa unilaterally pulled out of codeshare agreements. Governmental talks between Berlin and Ankara over a potential airline merger in 2012 also failed to progress.

But the flag carriers maintain ties through 50:50 joint venture SunExpress, which specialises in leisure traffic between Germany and Turkey.

“Our relationship is solid,” Turkish Airlines chief executive Temel Kotil said in February. We are a Star member, and we want to stay with Star forever. And we speak about friendship.”