At the end of May 2023, the provincial government of Carinthia will again deal with the creative exercise of the call option for Lilihill’s majority stake in Klagenfurt Airport. So far, the private investor could be sure that the provincial governor party SPÖ smashed the request of the coalition partner ÖVP. But this time the situation is different.
Both Governor Peter Kaiser (SPÖ) and his deputy Martin Gruber (ÖVP) have stated, albeit significantly differently, that the call option will be speeded up. As a result, this WILL be on the agenda again at one of the next meetings of the state government, probably at the end of May 2023. Significantly, Kaiser told the “Kleine Zeitung” with reference to the ten-point plan that he expects Lilihill to implement the announced hub connections in the first half of 2023.
Additional hub connections are still not available
Actually, Klagenfurt should have been connected to major hubs long ago – excluded from Vienna – because it was originally said that this would be the case from December 2022. As is well known, nothing happened as a result and it apparently looks as if the fact that the wages and the accepted « due to an accounting error » were transferred late and that only after receipt of the capital increase of the deffellschefter’s reduced increase, belongs to the hand, so the SPÖ should think about it guided. At the moment, the state of Carinthia and the city of Klagenfurt are even arguing about the mentioned payment being entered in the company register, because according to K-BV, the airport management should be refused this.
In addition, the difficult financial situation at Klagenfurt Airport was reported last year and a capital increase was presented as inevitable. Apparently, the Regio-Airport is in acute danger of insolvency and the payment by the minority shareholders has at least temporarily solved the problem. However, Lilihill’s majority owner will only transfer the much larger chunk if the city of Klagenfurt and the state of Carinthia waive the call option. Some of the public authorities do not want to get involved in this and prepare legal measures.
Without a codeshare or interline, it is not a hub connection
Incidentally, flying from Klagenfurt to Munich, Frankfurt, Amsterdam or other larger airports is not a hub connection. Passengers benefit little if there are purely point-to-point flights. Without a deposit or codesharing with large providers, ideally with the top dog at the respective large airport, there will be nothing with transfer connections. For passengers, especially those who are traveling with luggage, it would be extremely annoying if you first had to pick up the suitcases at the conveyor belt and then check them in again at the counter.
Large airline groups in particular, such as Lufthansa, Air France-KLM and IAG, are extremely selective when it comes to choosing their interline and codeshare partners. There are some basics to be met like IOSA security audit. In addition, certain minimum standards regarding the product must be met. EDP must also be designed in such a way that seamless cooperation is possible. The large network carriers generally do not close smartphones with “some virtual booths”. For regional carriers, codeshares on routes that mainly have transfer passengers from large carriers on board are by no means good business. There is not a lot of money for the feeder service and without their own point-to-point passengers who pay heavily for their tickets, such a cooperation would be economic suicide for the « small partner ». In the past, numerous regional airlines have gone bankrupt with codeshares with major airlines, which were perceived as “saving”. Conversely: Destinations that are important for network carriers are served by the company itself or with the help of its own subsidiary and you accept any loss, because it pays off in the bottom line – i.e. in the network.
Simply founding a GmbH and announcing flights to Frankfurt and/or Munich and believing that the Kranich Group is waiting for some virtual carrier that will bring passengers from Klagenfurt to the hub is simply a fatal misjudgment. Or what happens if you simply add EWR to the luggage label in Carinthia in addition to KLU? Due to the lack of an interline contract, this IS simply sorted out at the hub and ends up at the baggage carousel. Why should Lufthansa « accept » a piece of luggage just because EWR and the flight number were written on it by « someone »? Of course, there are some providers in the world of startups who want to enable so-called virtual interlining. That doesn’t really work in practice and anyone can « stitch tickets together » themselves, but when it comes to baggage, you’ll have to check it in again. Liability becomes complicated if the connection is missed. In the absence of genuine cooperation agreements, nobody is then responsible and, in case of doubt, the passenger bears the costs. It’s not a real hub connection either, and if Klagenfurt were such an attractive market, the big airlines would match each other with their own aircraft for the transfer passengers. The opposite is the case, because with the exception of Austrian Airlines, all previously existing hub connections have gradually disappeared into thin air.
Business jet customers criticize poor service
Contrary to previous announcements, the private majority owner will only be able to take off the Liliair house brand if the call option is waived and the supervisory board waves through the contract for an advance payment to the airport. It is supposed to be about handling fees, whereby it is questionable for what and why Liliair is a GmbH, which is not an airline and therefore cannot be a direct contractual partner of the airport, because this is always the operating carrier that wants to transfer at all. In addition, for some time now the media releases have not matched the representations on the homepage, which has not been updated for a long time. In any case, the first flight will not take place in April 2023.
So the next few weeks will show how things WILL continue at Klagenfurt Airport. Meanwhile, Aviation.Direct is receiving more and more complaints from private pilots and business jet operators. These are mainly concerned with the fact that the service at Carinthian Airport is said to be inadequate from the point of view of those affected. Case is criticized that essential contacts are not available or only via a contact form and answers are said to be a long time coming. This is very surprising, because business travel and general aviation are an important source of income for Klagenfurt Airport, because apart from a few Ryanair and Austrian Airlines connections, there are no other customers on the line. Eurowings has now finally given up the Cologne/Bonn flights. This route was repeatedly « paused » before.
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