Lufthansa to swal­low lion’s share of Air Ber­lin’s planes

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Business -

GER­MANY’S big­gest air­line Lufthansa will buy up more than half of the aircraft of its bank­rupt com­peti­tor Air Ber­lin, CEO Carsten Spohr said yes­ter­day. The Frank­furt-based car­rier signed a con­tract to buy 81 of Air Ber­lin’s 144 planes and took on 3,000 of its 8,500 staff yes­ter­day, Spohr said - the last day for bid­ders Lufthansa and Easy­jet to close their hoped-for deals. So far there has been no sign of an agree­ment be­tween Air Ber­lin and Easy­jet for re­main­ing parts of the busi­ness, nor has Lufthansa an­nounced how much it will pay un­der the deal. Ger­man me­dia have re­ported in re­cent weeks that the yel­low-and-blue-liv­er­ied car­rier could pay as much as 300 mil­lion euros ($356 mil­lion) for around 80 planes - a fig­ure Spohr cited as the largest com­pe­ti­tion au­thor­i­ties would ac­cept Lufthansa grab­bing. The agree­ment will need a green light from Euro­pean au­thor­i­ties in a process that could take “sev­eral weeks or months,” Air Ber­lin CEO Thomas Winkel­mann said last week. Mean­while, unions have com­plained that many of Air Ber­lin’s staff face an un­cer­tain fu­ture, with no guar­an­tee they will find work with the buyer firms once the com­pany is wound up - de­spite prom­ises when talks with Lufthansa and Easy­jet be­gan that most would find jobs with the bid­ders. Air Ber­lin trig­gered bank­ruptcy pro­ceed­ings in Au­gust after los­ing a cash life­line from its big­gest share­holder Eti­had Air­ways. Its aircraft have been kept aloft by a 150-mil­lioneuro emer­gency loan from the Ger­man gov­ern­ment while de­tails of the breakup were worked out. But the pres­sure was on to reach a deal this week, as Air Ber­lin’s planes will no longer be al­lowed to fly after Oct. 28 un­der in­sol­vency rules.

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