BERLIN, June 18 (Xinhua) -- Germany's largest airline Lufthansa is mulling a take-over of the low-cost airline Norwegian, its chief executive officer (CEO) Carsten Spohr announced on Monday.
Speaking to the newspaper "Sueddeutsche Zeitung", Spohr predicted that a new "wave of consolidation" was about to break in over the European airline industry. "This also means that we are in contact with Norwegian," he added.
Spohr explained that whether Lufthansa actually pursues the take-over after its recent acquisition of large parts of its bankrupt German rival Air Berlin was a question of the "strategic value-added, the price, and the possibilities with regards to competition law."
Norwegian is considered to have pioneered cheap long-haul flights in Europe, but is currently experiencing a period of commercial turbulence marked by flagging demand and rising debt levels.
Norwegian has been forced to cancel connections between Scandinavian capitals and Las Vegas due to poor sales after having already ordered 14 brand-new Dreamliner jets from Boeing for long-haul flights as part of a wider purchase of 30 planes to expand its fleet.
The news of a potential merger between Norwegian and Lufthansa lifted the share price of the embattled budget airline by up to 12 percent in Monday trading on the Oslo stock exchange.
Earlier, Norwegian rejected two take-over bids by International Airlines Group (IAG), which includes Iberia and British Airways amongst others. Media reports have also suggested that Irish Ryanair may be interested in buying Norwegian.
According to Spohr, Lufthansa is already well into the process of developing its low-cost subsidiary Eurowings into Europe's third largest airline. The CEO told "Sueddeutsche Zeitung" that he had "plenty of fantasy for the future" which included plans to operate new long-haul connections at affordable prices.