Thomas Cook’s German airline Condor has won EU approval for a vital €380 million loan for the forthcoming weak winter season and claims to have summer 2020 “signed and sealed”.
The European Commission this week approved the six-month bridging loan worth a total of €380 million from the German Federal Government and the Hessian State Government to enable the airline to cover operating costs in the traditionally loss-making winter season.
CEO Ralf Teckentrup welcomed the rapid decision from Brussels. "We are very pleased that the European Commission has made such a timely and positive decision. The bridging loan is an important step towards securing Condor's future,” he said. The airline’s management will now draw up a restructuring plan for a future without insolvent owner Thomas Cook and continue intensive ongoing talks with potential investors.
The long-serving Condor chief emphasised that the airline plays an important “systematic” role in the German leisure flights market. "A healthy business such as Condor is also in the interest of a properly operating market, because we are not only a significant competitor in the tourism sector, but also important for competition in the German and European aviation industry.”
Teckentrup underlined that customers and tour operator partners have stayed loyal to the airline following the insolvency of its parent company. "Our customers and business partners are booking additional contingents so that the current booking situation even surpasses our expectations. We are already in advanced discussions with all tour operators for a good and successful booking level for summer 2020."
Condor’s sales & marketing director Paul Schwaiger confirmed in an interview with fvw that the airline is very pleased with current and future booking levels, even though it is lacking the former volumes of Thomas Cook Germany, which has cancelled all holidays until the end of this year. These bookings represented about 20% of its passenger volumes.
“We are very satisfied, although of course the Thomas Cook and Neckermann bookings are missing. But it’s remarkable how quickly we have been able to close the gap. Other large business customers as well as SMEs, specialists and sales partners are supporting us massively, so that the bookings flow has hardly stopped after the Cook insolvency became known,” he said.
Schwaiger rejected claims that Condor has been offering cheap deals to win new passengers, claiming this was a long-planned sales campaign for the low season.
Looking ahead to next summer, the experienced sales executive said: “In theory, we already have summer 2020 signed and sealed, even if not every contract has been formally signed yet.
“Our (flight) offer will be just as large as this year. In terms of routes, we will definitely make a few adjustments, for example to Cyprus where we expect higher demand… That also applies to long-haul routes where we can imagine a few new things,” he added.