Chinese aviation company, HNA Group, has completed of the acquisition of a 48% equity stake in French airline Aigle Azur, becoming the company’s second largest shareholder.
The deal makes HNA the first Chinese aviation company to invest in a European airline, and adds to an expansive HNA aviation portfolio that already includes Hainan Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines, Tianjin Airlines, Deer Jet and several other regional Chinese carriers.
Under the new agreement, Aigle Azur will be governed by an executive committee composed of five representatives, two of which will be named by HNA. In addition, HNA Group also has the right to assign an executive member to be the airline’s vice president and to appoint a deputy chief financial officer.
During the investment ceremony to confirm the deal, HNA director Adam Tan said investing in Aigle Azur marked a “milestone in HNA’s internationalization”.
Following the completion of the deal, two wide-body aircraft will be introduced to the Aigle Azur fleet and a new route connecting Paris with Beijing will be opened. Aigle Azur will also look to expand its international routes to Africa. This will link the French airline with another of HNA’s international airline ventures, Africa World Airlines (AWA) – the Ghana-based carrier that made its maiden flight on 21 September.
Paris-based Aigle Azur is France’s second largest airline and currently operates short- and medium-haul flights to destinations in Europe and Africa.