SAirGroup has won the battle to take a large minority stake in state owned Polish flag-carrier LOT, dealing a blow to rival bidders British Airways and Lufthansa. SAir is to buy 37.6% of LOT, partially filling the void in eastern Europe caused by the departure of Austrian Airlines from the Qualiflyer Group. LOT will join Qualiflyer in January.

LOT's partial privatisation will see SAir take an initial 10% and employees 15%, with SAir injecting new capital to raise its stake to 37.6% by the end of the year, leaving the workforce with around 10% and the state 52%.

SAirGroup declines to reveal the size of the investment it will be making in LOT, but sources close to the bidding claim it offered substantially more for the stake than its Star and oneworld rivals. The Polish decision is a major blow to BA, which operates codeshare flights with LOT.

Source: Flight International