Lufthansa eyes buying most of Air Berlin's aircraft

Paterniano Del Favero
Agosto 18, 2017

Ryanair chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs lashed out this week at the fire sale of the insolvent Air Berlin's assets, saying the German government was "salami slicing" the failed carrier while excluding other airlines from the process.

"Only Lufthansa will initially be part of the talks".

Air Berlin filed for bankruptcy protection Tuesday after its main shareholder, Abu Dhabi-based Etihad, said it would make no more financing available following years of unsuccessful turnaround attempts.

The insolvency comes with thousands of Germans enjoying summer holidays, and just ahead of a September general election.

Germany's Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt said the asset sales were an opportunity for the country's aviation sector to bolster its footprint.

"That is why it is urgently necessary that Lufthansa can take over significant parts of Air Berlin", he told daily Rheinische Post.

Germany's transport ministry already faces allegations by the European Commission of maintaining a cosy relationship with its domestic industry and questions about whether authorities did enough to uncover an emissions scandal at carmaker Volkswagen, which is partially state-owned. Another source said the number of aircraft Lufthansa wanted to take was smaller.

The group is in talks with a total of three aviation firms, including Lufthansa, German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung quoted Thomas Winkelmann as saying in yesterday's edition.

The loan will help Air Berlin to keep flights running for the next three months, while it is negotiating a possible deal with Lufthansa and another unnamed carrier, reported by German media to be easyJet.

Air Berlin's demise offers Lufthansa and rivals a chance to acquire slots at airports such as Berlin Tegel and Duesseldorf, with Germany's largest airline keen to defend its domestic position against expansion by low-priced rival Ryanair (RYA.I).

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