Government to bail out Austrian Airlines if privatisation fails
The Austrian government will have to rescue Austrian Airlines AG if the privatisation process fails, Transport Minister Werner Faymann said Wednesday, as he announced that there was one valid bid for the ailing flag carrier, reported dpa.
While Faymann left it open whether there was another, incomplete, offer, the government holding OeIAG said it would stick to its schedule and announce a decision Monday on the sale of its 42.75-per- cent stake in Austrian Airlines.
As the privatisation faced uncertainty, the price of Austrian Airlines shares crashed to 2.9 euros (3.9 dollars) on the Vienna stock market, a decline of 28.9 per cent from yesterday.
Neither Faymann nor OeIAG said whether the German airline Deutsche Lufthansa AG had submitted the bid. Lufthansa declined repeated requests for a comment.
On Tuesday, French-Dutch carrier Air France-KLM said it had officially withdrawn from the bidding process.
Unconfirmed media reports stated that the Russia-based S7 Airlines had also not submitted a valid offer.
Despite the unclear situation, OeIAG said in a statement that the time schedule for the privatisation was still valid, and that its "supervisory board will take and convey a decision on Monday."
Last week, the management of Austrian Airlines issued a warning that the company would end the year with a deficit of 125 million euros (178 million dollars), mainly as a result of high fuel costs.
The number of passengers decreased by 4 per cent in September.