After nearly 40 years in the sky, Germany’s second-largest airline bowed out with the last scheduled flight that departing Munich at 9:35 pm (1935 GMT) and arrived at Berlin’s Tegel airport
The farewell flight, on an Airbus A320 carrying 178 passengers and eight crew, was an emotional one, with the airline saying all seats were snapped up well in advance.
“Today, on October 27, 2017, an aviation era comes to an end,” it said in a statement.
“Air Berlin says thank you.”
Tegel airport kept its viewing platform open later than usual to allow visitors to witness Air Berlin’s final homecoming.
Several Air Berlin flights also landed in Düsseldorf airport for the last time on Friday evening.Meanwhile, British low-cost carrier easyJet announced Saturday it had agreed to buy part of Air Berlin’s operations at Tegel Airport for 40 million euros ($46.4 million). EasyJet will enter into leases for up to 25 A320 aircraft and take over slots, it said, as the last Air Berlin flights were set to land back in Germany. The company also said it was hoping to recruit around 1,000 Air Berlin pilots and cabin crew over the coming months, to be employed on German contracts.
Air Berlin, which employs some 8,000 people, triggered bankruptcy proceedings in August after its biggest shareholder Etihad Airways pulled the plug on a cash lifeline following years of losses.
The struggling airline was able to keep flying until now thanks to a €150 million bridging loan from the German government, giving it time to negotiate the sale of its assets.
German flagship carrier Lufthansa is taking the biggest chunk, buying 81 of the insolvent airline’s 144 aircraft. It also plans to hire up to 3,000 Air Berlin staffers.
The defunct carrier remains in talks with British low-cost airline EasyJet and Thomas Cook’s German subsidiary Condor for other parts of its business.
But the fate of thousands of Air Berlin employees still hangs in the balance.
“Even on this last day of flight operations many employees are heading into an uncertain future,” pilots’ union Cockpit said.
“Instead of reliable information from the old and new owners, there are no details about what’s going to happen next.”
Red-and-white liveried Air Berlin has flown over half a billion passengers since its first take-off in 1979.
Affectionately dubbed the “Majorca Shuttle”, it was especially popular with German holiday makers headed for Spanish beach destinations.
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