Decision 'soon' on Lufthansa state rescue: Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday that a decision would come "soon" on a potential rescue programme for coronavirus-stricken airline giant Lufthansa after weeks of talks.

"You should expect a decision soon, but it has to be ready first," Merkel said in Berlin.

Various media reported that ministers in Merkel's coalition government have agreed to take a stake in Lufthansa either above or below the 25 percent threshold for a blocking minority in business decisions.

The reports appeared to reflect an ongoing conflict between Merkel's conservative CDU party and their centre-left SPD junior partners over how much influence the state should have over Lufthansa.

Within the coalition, "talks have made a lot of progress, but are not yet complete," a government spokesman told AFP following Merkel's remarks.

As well as Merkel, Lufthansa spokespeople declined to comment on a report from Der Spiegel magazine that Berlin had offered the group a new nine billion euro ($10 billion) package.

Pro-business politicians among the ranks of the chancellor's conservative CDU party have for weeks rejected state representation on Lufthansa's supervisory board, saying government should not interfere with management.

But Merkel's junior partners in the Social Democratic Party (SPD) were in favour, hoping to exert influence on potential job cuts and environmental targets.

Also Wednesday, Lufthansa subsidiary Austrian Airlines said it had agreed pay cuts and a longer-lasting furlough with cabin crew, while adding that restarting regular flight operations in June "has become more likely".

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