Lufthansa has floated the possibility of leasing BMI slots as part of its effort to improve the struggling UK carrier's results, as it insists it is not considering shutting the airline down.

Finance chief Stephan Gemkow said Lufthansa was "driven by a desire to stop the bleeding" at BMI, which lost €120 million in the first half of 2011.

But he added that closing the carrier was "not an option". "To be very blunt, insolvency would be a much, much bigger impact [than the losses]," he said.

He pointed out that the company had made "some management mistakes" which Lufthansa had been "unable to prevent" and that BMI "would have been in a different shape" if these had not happened.

But he added that Lufthansa had to be patient. "I don't know of any quick solutions which would really create a different picture than the one we have to deal with."

Lufthansa had opted not to bring BMI's fuel hedging immediately up to the level of the parent company, in order to avoid incurring a "big risk at once".

"We started late with fuel hedging," Gemkow said, adding that, at 66%, it still lagged behind the group's figure of 85%. He said that Lufthansa "won't hesitate" to pursue better alternatives if it feels its strategy for BMI could be improved.

BMI has a valuable portfolio of slots. Gemkow said Lufthansa would not necessarily dispose of these slots but would consider leasing them, particularly because - given the crises which have affected BMI's operations - other airlines "might make better use" of the slots for a couple of years.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news