Analysts question motives behind Blue Air’s purchase of Air Moldova

A consortium led by a Romanian low-cost airline, Blue Air, has bought the loss-making Moldovan state-owned national airline Air Moldova for the knock-down price of just 50 million Moldovan lei (2.56 million euros). The consortium, which also includes two Moldovan businessmen, will also take on Air Moldova’s debts of around 1.2 billion Moldovan lei (61 million euros). The airline accumulated 150 million Moldovan lei worth of debt in 2017 alone.

“We are pleased that Air Moldova has joined the Blue Air family and we look look forward to using our experience to develop Air Moldova in the future,” said Marius Puiu, Blue Air’s managing director. “We will take the name of the company forward and intend to make all Moldovans proud of an airline that we hope will be their first choice for air travel.”

Founded in 1993 Air Moldova currently serves 29 destinations with a small fleet of seven aircraft. Blue Air, founded in 2004, is the second largest airline on the Romanian market and serves 80 routes with a fleet of 29 planes.

While the deal makes sense for the Moldovan government, delighted to have off-loaded a dead weight, some analysts have questioned the wisdom and motives of Blue Air’s purchase.

Sorin Ionița, of the think tank Expert Forum, active in Moldova, has said the deal lacks any reason.

“Not only is the transaction opaque – the period for putting forward offers was just one month, and no announcements were made on the global market – but lacking in any reason,” he wrote on Facebook.

“Blue Air operates Boeings, Air Moldova operates a hodgepodge of aircraft, none of them Boeings. Routes are not complementary, and Air Moldova operates in an area of the airline business where Blue Air has no experience. No wonder some people in Chişinău suspect that Blue Air, a family-owned company with relatively opaque finances, is being used as a way of transferring shares in a Moldovan state-owned company to businessmen close to the regime.”

Photo: Air Moldova official Facebook page