16 JANUARY 2012
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Hungarian airline Malev may become the first airline casualty of the European economic crisis. The national carrier, now state-controlled, is waiting the result of a cabinet meeting later today (16 January) to know if it has a future, certainly in its present set-up. What is clearly obvious it that the ratings agency crisis, announced last Friday, will turn ministers’ attention to even more vital country interests. Malev is a member of oneworld.
The airline depends on state aid to keep operating and was granted another US$21m loan at the end of December. It is trying to quell worries of suppliers and customers by insisting in public statements that normal operations will continue. The country’s Government says it has accepted a European Commission ruling that financing granted to Malev in 2007-10 “constitutes illegal state aid.”
Question marks must hang over other central European carriers including Air Baltic, CSA Czech Airlines and LOT Polish Airlines which have been kept afloat by their respective governments.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) expects European carriers to post a combined loss of US$600m in 2012. Based on estimates, they made a profit of US$1bn in 2011, a 1.2% margin. www.malev.hu
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