“Today will be a milestone in the history of Lufthansa and Air Berlin,” said Spohr in Berlin ahead of an expected official announcement that a formal deal has been agreed between the airlines.
Germany’s largest airline is expected to buy Air Berlin’s low-cost leisure airline Niki, its LG Walter regional airline as well as more than half of Air Berlin’s A320 fleet. “The deal with Lufthansa is done, there is agreement,” an inside source told Reuters on Wednesday.
Spohr has suggested that Lufthansa will purchase 81 of Air Berlin’s 144 planes, as well as taking on around 3,000 of the company’s staff. He also told the Rheinische Post newspaper that Lufthansa would invest up to 1.5 billion euros ($1.8 billion) into Air Berlin as part of the takeover of the assets.
Sealing the deal
Air Berlin, which employs around 8,000 people, filed for bankruptcy in August after its funding was cut off by Etihad, one of its major shareholders.
Negotiations for the sale of Air Berlin’s assets, thought to include just under 150 leased aircraft as well as several sought-after landing and takeoff slots at German airports, have been ongoing for the past month.
On September 25, Air Berlin said it was negotiating with Lufthansa and British low cost carrier easyJet for the sale of its assets, with a deadline of October 12 set for the conclusion of negotiations.
Lufthansa’s bid is thought to be worth between €200-300 million ($238-356 million) while easyJet are also expected to pick up some of the assets. The easyJet aspect of the deal appears to be considerably less certain than that with Lufthansa however, with negotiations reportedly still ongoing.
Air Berlin ceases its long-haul operation on October 15 and from October 28, will no longer operate under its own banner and will fly as a service provider on behalf of the buyers.
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