fvw interview

Schauinsland boss eyes hotel acquisitions

German tour operator Schauinsland-Reisen is staying true to airline partner Condor, expanding its small carrier Sundair and is open to buying more hotels in the wake of the Thomas Cook insolvency, owner Gerald Kassner told fvw in an interview.

Germany’s seventh-largest tour operator, which expects turnover of €1.37 billion and 1.64 million customers this year, will maintain its long-standing strategy of selling overwhelmingly through travel agencies but is open to expanding its small airline and taking over more hotels, the 56-year-old entrepreneur explained.

Kassner emphasised that the tour operator had maintained its capacity this year with its “long-standing partner” Condor and was ready to support the Thomas Cook airline financially if necessary.

“We are interested in an independent airline that operates according to market conditions and not according to group interests. In this sense I would consider a stake. But fundamentally we are not interested in taking over Condor. After all, we already have an airline with Sundair,” he commented.

This small leisure airline, in which Schauinsland holds a 50% stake, “will be profitable for the first time this year”, Kassner revealed. Sundair, which carried 450,000 passengers in 2019 with five planes, expects about 600,000 passengers next year. “If the market stays as it is, then I see a fleet of seven planes as a good and strong size in future,” he added.  

In terms of hotels, Kassner made clear that Schauinsland, which currently operates six hotels (including a resort in the Maldives), expects more properties to come on to the market following the Thomas Cook insolvency but is only interested in the right ones in the right location. “Hotels are the easiest to run profitably, if you buy the right properties in the right place. But it doesn’t make any sense to buy B or C locations in a crisis.”

Schauinsland has not actively contacted hoteliers yet and “wants to wait calmly”, Kassner said. He predicted that there will be “plenty of buying chances” next year, especially from “very spoiled” Spanish hoteliers “who are now reaching hard reality”. But he warned: “These will include lots of bad hotels that you shouldn’t buy in any circumstances, even if they are cheap.”  

The company wanted to focus on profitable hotels in a first-class location. “They must generate a good margin, otherwise we will not get involved,” he declared.