German airline Lufthansa to buy lion's share of Air Berlin's planes

Bankruptcy Application Air Berlin announced ongoing negotiations with British airline easyjet.

Talks between the insolvent carrier Air Berlin (DE:) and easyJet (L:) over the sale of up to 30 planes are at risk of falling apart, according to a report in Germany's B.Z. newspaper on Monday.

Further complicating matters, there is disagreement over landing rights in Duesseldorf and Berlin's Tegel airport with Lufthansa (DE:), which is bidding for other parts of Air Berlin, the report said.

Air Berlin and easyJet declined to comment. He added that 80 aircraft was the largest addition to Lufthansa's fleet that competition authorities would accept. Air Berlin's chief executive officer, Thomas Winkelmann, said company could "brea a sigh" after confirming EU Commission's sales agreement.

Germany's second-largest airline filed for insolvency in August, after Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways, Air Berlin's main shareholder, withdrew its financial support after the latter racked up years of losses.

Its aircraft have been kept aloft by a 150-million-euro ($178 million) emergency loan from the German government. A crowd of German and global investors and competitors lined up after the bankruptcy was announced, with an eye not only on Air Berlin's aircraft but also its coveted takeoff and landing slots at the country's crowded airports. Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary has called it a "stitch-up", saying it would give Lufthansa a 95 percent share of the German domestic market.

The Irish carrier had previously described the possibility of a deal between the two German airlines as a "stitch up" meant to strengthen Lufthansa and late on Thursday (12 October) it announced it will challenge the agreement by turning to the competition watchdog. Lufthansa also used a briefing paper earlier this month to take a swipe at Ryanair, arguing its complaints were "an attempt to distract from their own problems".

Meanwhile, unions have complained that many of Air Berlin's staff faced an uncertain future despite promises when talks with Lufthansa and Easyjet began that most would find jobs with the bidders.



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