This is how eulogies could begin. "A successful year 2022", in which the Executive Board "stuck to its well-chosen course" - this was confirmed by Ingo Speich of Deutsche Lufthansa's fund company Deka at the Annual General Meeting on Tuesday. Henrik Pontzen of Union Investment also says Lufthansa has "benefited greatly" from the recovery of the travel market. But this is followed by no more praise, but a lot of criticism: It is about an unclear strategy for the future from the point of view of shareholders, about deficiencies in customer service, a sale of parts of the group that is too slow according to investors. This year, for example, Lufthansa plans to sell a minority stake in its maintenance division in order to receive more money for strengthening and expanding its aviation business.

Timo Kotowski

Editor in business.

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CEO Carsten Spohr is trying to present the plan to join the Italian company ITA as the next milestone. Italy is already "our largest foreign market after the USA". Lufthansa will become even more international. "From our point of view, this is necessary in global competition." ITA is to become the tenth brand in the Group – alongside Lufthansa, Eurowings, Swiss and others. Critics speak of a "general store" and a "brand jungle". Spohr says diversity is not a weakness. "It is increasingly becoming our key strategic success factor."

Shareholder meeting provides a bizarre picture

Pontzen sees it differently: "We do not believe that the takeover of the loss-making Italian ITA will pay off for shareholders." Speich says the record of previous acquisitions has been "mixed." Although the Swiss subsidiary Swiss shines, Lufthansa was never happy with the British Midland, which was once taken over. Now it's about ITA, an extended negotiation deadline runs until Friday. But for the possible next purchase target, TAP from Portugal, the warning from Union Investment comes along with it: one cannot imagine how yet another takeover candidate can be successfully integrated.

The Lufthansa shareholder meeting provides a bizarre picture. Nobody complains about the business figures, after all, Lufthansa had made a profit again in 2022 after the Corona crisis, almost 800 million euros. And for 2023, Spohr has forecast the strongest summer in the company's history. Nevertheless, there is a lot of criticism. In addition, there is resentment over changes to the remuneration of the Board of Management, which will enable Spohr to earn a maximum income of 11 million euros per year in the future. And the management is attested to a lack of willingness to engage in dialogue – both by investors and employees.

The pilots' union Vereinigung Cockpit and the flight attendants' union Ufo complain of an "internal cultural crisis". After the pandemic crisis, her impression is: "In times when employees wanted to move closer together, the employer decided to keep them at a distance." In his speech, Spohr said that the employees had put the company back on the road to success. UFO Vice President Anja Bronstert is not satisfied with this: "Offering maximum service with a minimum crew only works on the backs of the employees."

Kley receives 90.3 percent

Shareholders complain more that Lufthansa wants to continue to hold annual general meetings virtually in the future, seeing this as an indication of a lack of willingness to engage in dialogue. One investor even calls for the chairman of the supervisory board, Karl-Ludwig Kley, to be replaced as chairman of the meeting, as he does not allow some questions that were not submitted in advance during the virtual shareholder meeting. The meeting is adjourned, the Supervisory Board votes in favor of continuation, especially since the questioning procedure was not a decision by Kley, but by the Board of Management. In the end, every seventh shareholder vote cast is against further virtual meetings, all other agenda items are more approved.

The elections to the Supervisory Board are also proving to be a critical issue. Lufthansa's major shareholder and logistics specialist Klaus-Michael Kühne will be replaced by his confidant Karl Gernandt. In the run-up to the event, discord had become known, as Kley was said to have reservations about pushing ahead too much. Gernandt introduces himself as a future "active member of the supervisory board", he is elected with 96.3 percent. Kley, who is up for re-election, received 90.3 percent fewer votes. Previously, Deka's Speich urged the two to work together: "Any confrontation not only harms the work of your supervisory boards, but rather the entire company."