When the German government enters the capital of Lufthansa, that will be a big change for the airline. But state holdings are not that uncommon in aviation. An overview.
25 per cent plus one share – this is the stake that the German government wants to get in return for billions in state aid to Lufthansa. It is a novelty for the airline that was fully privatized in 1997. But state holdings are not that uncommon in aviation after all.
A look at Air France-KLM shows that Lufthansa’s competitor already shows state holdings. France holds 14.3 percent, 14 percent is in Dutch ownership. The structure at SAS Scandinavian Airlines is similar. After the state of Norway withdrew in 2018, Sweden now holds 14.82 percent of SAS and Denmark 14.24 percent. An exciting side note: the Treasurer of the State, i.e. the Ministry of Finance of the US state of North Carolina, also holds a 0.93 percent stake.
Gulf State holds largest share in IAG
Neither the United Kingdom nor Spain has a stake in the British-Spanish aviation group IAG, which includes British Airways and Iberia. Nevertheless, the largest shareholder is state-owned: Qatar Airways, which is wholly owned by the government of Qatar, increased its stake in IAG from 21.4 to 25.1 percent in mid-February.
Also through Qatar Airways, Qatar has a 10 percent stake in South America’s largest airline. It holds 10 percent of Latam, which has no other state shareholders. In the Gulf States, in addition to Qatar, Emirates and Etihad are also 100 percent state-owned.
El Al is not in state hands
A sovereign wealth fund holds 49.12 percent of Turkish Airlines. Another share of the airline belongs to the Turkish Ministry of Finance. Israel’s El Al, once founded as a state-owned company, now gets by without state participation. In Africa, however, many airlines are in the hands of governments. Ethiopian Airlines, the continent’s largest airline, is also completely owned by the state of Ethiopia.
The big airlines of the USA, United, American, Delta and Southwest, are all purely private. This also applies to Qantas in Australia, in which the Norwegian state pension fund holds 1.67 percent.
China always has the majority
Russia’s largest airline, Aeroflot, is 51.2 percent owned directly by the state. A further 3.5 percent is owned by the state-owned technology group Rostec. In China, too, the state does not own 100 percent of the major airlines such as China Southern, China Eastern and Air China, but always holds the majority of the companies with more than 50 percent.