[FRANKFURT] Lufthansa is seeking a partnership with, or a complete takeover, of holiday airline Condor to further expand its low-cost Eurowings business, three people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
Talks with Condor parent Thomas Cook have been going on since at least January, they said.
Lufthansa, Condor and Thomas Cook all declined to comment.
Lufthansa launched Eurowings last year in a fresh attempt to crack the low-cost market and compete with the likes of Ryanair and easyJet.
It has said it aims to use Eurowings to bundle various subsidiaries and brands, and sources recently told Reuters that it was also eyeing Scandinavian carrier SAS and Brussels Airlines.
Talks with Thomas Cook could result in a marketing cooperation that would allow Lufthansa to buy capacity on Condor's 46 aircraft, sources told Reuters.
One option is also that Lufthansa could acquire a minority stake in Condor, or take over the airline completely. "Due to Condor's 800 million euros in debt that Lufthansa would probably have to take on, too, a takeover would involve only a symbolic price," one of the sources said.
Also, Condor's long-haul fleet of Boeing 767 aircraft would need to be renewed soon, they said.