Cargolux Airlines International SA, Europe’s biggest freight-only carrier, said today its board has backed a cooperation agreement with the Chinese group buying a 35 percent stake held by the Luxembourg government.
Henan Civil Aviation and Investment Co. “recently” agreed to acquire the holding inherited by the government last year when Qatar Airways Ltd. quit its investment, Cargolux said. The company said Dec. 10 the transaction was valued at $231 million.
Luxembourg has been seeking to dispose of the stake for about a year after acquiring it for $117.5 million when a dispute with Cargolux management led Qatar Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker to exit. The European company, the first operator of Boeing Co.’s 747-8 freighter, lost $35.1 million last year amid a slump in global air-freight demand.
“This transaction will enable Cargolux to be well positioned to profit from the trade movements generated by one of the world’s most dynamic and fastest developing economies,” Cargolux Chairman Paul Helminger said in a statement, adding that Henan province, west of Shanghai, has an “accelerating domestic appetite for goods transported by air.”
The deal still requires the approval of Chinese authorities, Cargolux said. HNCA would become the second-largest stakeholder after passenger carrier Luxair, which is majority owned by Luxembourg and controls 43.4 percent.
The airline said separately it had struck an accord with Aeroscraft Corp., a California-based airship maker, to explore cooperation for freight services in Europe and North Africa.
“As the European leader in air cargo and project cargo logistics, Cargolux is an natural partner for Aeros while introducing a new global point-to-point network for air cargo delivery,” Igor Pasternak, chief executive officer of the dirigible maker, said in a statement.