Last November, Carlos Bertomeu announced his goal to join of the major European airlines. Now he is about to achieve it. Air Nostrum is studying a request from the German giant Lufthansa and five other airlines for the Valencian airline to lease aircraft and operate flights for them. It is a business model known as wet lease, an operation that includes aircraft, maintenance, insurance and crew.
"Right now, Air Nostrum is negotiating several contracts to operate under wet lease in Europe, as it has already done with SAS and Croatia Airlines. These agreements are not yet finalised so we cannot give out any details. Air Nostrum will continue to carry out wet lease operations for European airlines, with enough flexibility to expand operations”, said sources from the airline run by Carlos Bertomeu.
A few weeks ago, the Valencian businessman presented his company’s ambitious diversification plan. He and his partners have created a holding company (ILAI-Inversiones Líneas Aéreas Internacionales) which is financially independent from the airline, and which will provide maintenance, aircraft leasing, firefighting services, and even includes a division to exploit the imminent liberalization of the passenger rail market.
It is both a geographical and a sectors diversification plan (Bertomeu has business interests in Paraguay, Argentina and Malta). In this context, Bertomeu, in an interview with the Expansión newspaper, foresees that "the process in Europe of consolidating previously national airlines will also happen in other regions, "a process of two or three regional brands operating as part of large holding companies”.
In this context, the company wants to maximize its fleet and put part of its capacity at the disposal of large airlines to gain positions in central and northern Europe, thereby taking advantage this year of the vacated capacity of disappearing airlines.
As part of this policy, Bertomeu and his partners have recently launched a new company Hibernian Airlines, designed to lend aircraft under wet lease in central and northern Europe. The decision to create the company came after two frustrated attempts to win a plane and crew rental contest with a major airline in northern Europe. It is a segment with ample business opportunities.
Hibernian is based in Ireland, a decision made after discarding the UK because of Brexit. However, the operation with Lufthansa will not be negotiated from Hibernian, but will be carried out directly from Air Nostrum, just as it already does with Canary Binter and Scandinavian SAS.