Libra courts Helios for low-cost launch

2004-10-22

Libra Holidays Group (LHG) will use the ?30m raised from the sale of its stake in Excel Airways to launch a low-cost carrier and buy hotels in Croatia and Bulgaria. It has confirmed that it is talks to buy Helios Airways, a Larnaca-based scheduled and charter operator with three planes. The plan is to reposition Helios as a stand-alone low-cost serving Cyprus and the eastern Med from key European outbound markets, including the UK. Paris and Warsaw are tipped to be added to Helios’ existing network. LHG, which currently owns 14 hotels in Cyprus and Greece, has confirmed plans to expand its property portfolio with purchases in Bulgaria and Croatia.Cyprus-based LHG told its domestic stock exchange on Monday that it has sold a 30% stake in Excel Airways for ?30.2m to Air Atlanta, ?14.8m of which it has already received with the balance due in May05.