Billionaire Lebedev’s German airline Blue Wings loses license


Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev’s German airline Blue Wings AG lost its license after regulators concluded that the discount carrier had “business problems,” a decision Lebedev said he’ll appeal.

“Effective immediately, Blue Wings is no longer allowed to transport passengers, mail and/or cargo,” the LBA, Germany’s aviation authorities, said in a statement on its Web site that is dated March 31. The LBA in January turned Blue Wings license into a three-month permit that expired March 31.

Lebedev, who owns about 48 percent of Blue Wings, said in a phone interview from Moscow today that concerns over the carrier’s financial health were unfounded and that he plans to appeal the decision. The Dusseldorf-based airline, with a fleet of 10 Airbus SAS A320s, had sales of about 150 million euros ($202 million) last year and revenue growth of 25 percent this January and February, Lebedev said.

“We didn’t give the German government any reasons to behave like this,” Lebedev said.

Blue Wings operated regular flights between Germany and Russia and charter flights to tourist destinations in Turkey and the Middle East. Lebedev, a business and political partner of former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, bought London’s Evening Standard newspaper in January and controls about 29 percent of Aeroflot, Russia’s biggest airline.

Lebedev said he’s still committed to uniting Blue Wings with his Russian low-cost carrier Red Wings