FRANKFURT — The leading German airline, Lufthansa, has officially declared interest in buying part of troubled Austrian Airlines, a spokesman told AFP on Monday.
Candidates had until Sunday to request documentation from the investment bank Merrill Lynch, which is handling the operation.
The Lufthansa spokesman declined however to indicate how big a stake the German carrier would like to acquire.
Early this month, the Austrian government decided to sell up to 100 percent of the airline, although a minority blocking stake of 25 percent was expected to be held by either private Austrian investors or the state-owned holding company OEIAG.
Austrian Airlines, which was slammed by rising fuel prices, expects to post a loss of up to 90 million euros (130 million dollars) this year, and is also saddled with a heavy debt load.
Lufthansa is considered to be the best placed airline to acquire the stake, and is also a partner of Austrian Airlines within the Star Alliance.
But Air France/KLM, which leads the rival Sky Team alliance, is also said to be interested in buying part of the Austrian airline.