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Lufthansa submits offer to acquire a stake in ITA

Deutsche Lufthansa AG is aiming to acquire a stake in the Italian national carrier ITA Airways (Italia Trasporto Aereo S.p.A.). The plan is to agree on the initial acquisition of a minority stake - rumored to be 40% - as well as on options to purchase the remaining shares at a later date. Last week, the company submitted an offer to the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance to conclude a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in this respect. Contingent on both parties signing this MoU, further negotiations and discussions would be conducted on an exclusive basis. These talks would primarily focus on the form of a possible equity investment, the commercial and operational integration of ITA into the Lufthansa Airline Group, as well as resulting synergies

For Lufthansa Group, Italy is the most important market outside of its home markets and the US. Italy’s importance for both business and private travel lies in its strong export-oriented economy and status as one of Europe’s top vacation spots. Lufthansa is now bidding alone, as its original partner – shipping group MSC – has backed out. An Air France-backed bid also seems to have faded away.


ZeroAvia hydrogen-electric aircraft celebrates first flight

Zero-emission flight took a step forward last week with ZeroAvia flying the largest aircraft in the world to be powered by a hydrogen-electric engine. The 19-seat Dornier 228 testbed retrofitted with a full-size prototype hydrogen-electric powertrain on the left wing took to the skies for the maiden flight on January 19. The flight took place from the company’s R&D facility at Cotswold Airport in Gloucestershire, UK, and lasted 10 minutes. The flight forms part of the HyFlyer II project, a R&D programme backed by the UK Government’s flagship ATI Programme, which targets development of a 600kW powertrain to support 9-19 seat aircraft. The twin-engine aircraft was retrofitted to incorporate ZeroAvia’s hydrogen-electric engine on its left wing, which then operated alongside a single Honeywell TPE-331 stock engine on the right. In this testing configuration, the hydrogen-electric powertrain comprises two fuel cell stacks, with lithium-ion battery packs providing peak power support during take-off and adding additional redundancy for safe testing. ZeroAvia’s 2-5 MW powertrain programme, already underway, will scale the clean engine technology for up to 90-seat aircraft. Rival hydrogen propulsion system developer Universal Hydrogen has indicated it is close to conducting a first flight test with a larger Dash 8 regional airliner in Washington state.


BHS Aviation receives operating license for jets

With the activation of the Swiss AOC (Air Operator Certificate) for fixed-wing aircraft, BHS Aviation is responding to developments in the European charter market. BHS Aviation GmbH was established in 2008 as BHS Helicopterservice with its headquarters in Bamberg as a company that specializes in business helicopter flights. BHS Aviation, headquartered in Zurich, was originally founded in 1991 under the name Heli-Link/Jet-Link AG. Following an acquisition by DC Aviation GmbH in 2016, the company changed its name to DC Aviation Switzerland AG. On May 2, 2019, the Bamberg-based BHS Helicopterservice GmbH signed the contracts to purchase the helicopter business of its Stuttgart cooperation partner DC Aviation GmbH. Since January 17 of this year, BHS Aviation Group is operating a newly purchased, Swiss-registered Cessna Citation Latitude Jet.


Harrods Aviation has acquired rival FBO company Fayair

The acquisition will expand Harrods Aviation’s footprint by 130,000 sq ft, including a 38,750 sq ft hangar and 91,500 sq ft of private ramp parking. Following the deal, the company has a total operational footprint of around 500,000sq ft across London’s Luton and Stansted airports. The company will also take on Stansted-based Fayair’s staff as part of the deal.


People: John L. Plueger, CEO and President Air Lease Corporation

Victor CEOs Toby Edwards (left) and James Farley (right)

John L. Plueger is Chief Executive Officer, President, and Member of the Board of Directors of Air Lease Corporation, a leading aircraft leasing company principally engaged in purchasing commercial aircraft and leasing them to its airline customers worldwide. Mr. Plueger has more than 36 years of aviation industry and aircraft leasing experience, 23 of which were with International Lease Finance Corporation (“ILFC”) where he served as acting Chief Executive Officer from February 2010 to March 2010, as President and Chief Operating Officer from 2002 to February 2010 and on its board of directors from 2002 to 2010. Mr. Plueger’s professional experience also includes testifying before the U.S. House of Representatives as an aircraft leasing industry expert witness as well as responding to European Commission formal inquiries concerning aerospace industry related mergers and acquisitions. Mr. Plueger is a Certified Public Accountant and is an FAA Airline Transport Pilot, with multiple jet type ratings and instructor ratings. Mr. Plueger is a member of the Pepperdine University Board of Regents and a director (Emeritus) of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Mr. Plueger also serves on the Board of Directors of Spirit AeroSystems. Mr. Plueger holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from UCLA and is a Certified Director from the UCLA Anderson Graduate School of Management Corporate Director Certification Program.

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