Air Berlin Flights to Cease This Month

BERLIN—Flights operated by insolvent German carrier Air Berlin will end by Oct. 28 at the latest, it said on Monday, urging staff to seek jobs elsewhere while it works toward a carve-up of its assets.

Air Berlin filed for insolvency in August and a government loan is keeping its planes in the air to give it time to negotiate with investors for parts of the business.

Talks with Lufthansa and easyJet are due to run until Thursday and once a deal for parts of its business has been agreed Air Berlin will have to wind down the rest of the operation.

Planes of the Lufthansa airline stand on the tarmac in Frankfurt airport, Germany on March 17, 2016. (REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/File Photo)
An EasyJet aircraft is ready for take off at Cointrin airport in Geneva, Switzerland on June 30, 2017. (REUTERS/Denis Balibouse)

“After purchase contracts have been agreed, the company must end its own operations step by step,” Air Berlin said in a statement.

Between the signing of a deal and obtaining competition approval, which could take several months, the Air Berlin business will operate under wet leases, whereby the carrier will rent out crewed planes.

Air Berlin’s Niki, which flies to tourist destinations, and regional airline LG Walter are not insolvent and those will continue to run, the company said.

Most Air Berlin long-haul flights have already been canceled and the remainder will end on Oct. 15.

An Air Berlin sign is seen at an Air Berlin storage hall in Berlin, Germany on Aug. 15, 2017. (REUTERS/Axel Schmidt/File Photo)

Lufthansa is interested in Air Berlin operations with about 81 planes, including Niki and LG Walter, while easyJet is in talks for parts of the business with about 27-30 planes, Air Berlin administrators have said.

Those operations also include access to take-off and landing slots at Air Berlin’s hubs in Tegel and Duesseldorf.

German carrier Air Berlin aircraft is pictured at Tegel airport in Berlin, Germany on Sept. 12, 2017. (REUTERS/Axel Schmidt)

Air Berlin leases its planes, so any bidder will have to fund the aircraft separately. Lufthansa said last month that its board had freed up 1 billion euros ($1.17 billion) to invest in new planes for Eurowings, which it said were likely to come from Air Berlin.

An Airbus A330 belonging to Lufthansa’s low-cost brand Eurowings taxis on tarmac before its first long-haul flight to Havana, Cuba, at Cologne-Bonn airport, Germany on Nov. 2, 2015. (REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay)

However, a newspaper reported on Monday that talks with easyJet may not result in a deal after the British carrier reduced its offer.

Analysts and industry experts have said that easyJet could be interested in slots made available at London Gatwick after the collapse of British holiday airline Monarch, which was grounded last week.

EasyJet has already encouraged cabin crew and pilots made redundant by Monarch last week to apply for positions at the budget carrier.

On Monday Air Berlin said its staff would not all find jobs with the potential buyers of its assets and they should start looking for jobs.

Employees of insolvent German airline Air Berlin protest before an Air Berlin news conference in Berlin, Germany on Sept. 25, 2017. (REUTERS/Stefanie Loos)

Eurowings has already opened up vacancies for 1,000-plus pilots, cabin crew and ground staff and said on Friday that it had received more than 2,500 applications from around the world, about half of which were from pilots.

Reuters

People line up behind a barrier tape of Lufthansa’s budget airlines Eurowings during a 24-hour strike over pay and working conditions at Cologne-Bonn airport, Germany on Oct. 27, 2016. (REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay)
 
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