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Majority Of Air Berlin Planes Looking To Be Bought By Germany's Lufthansa

Majority Of Air Berlin Planes Looking To Be Bought By Germany's Lufthansa
Even as the government and rivals race to carve up insolvent Air Berlin, media reports quoting people familiar with the matter said that Germany's Lufthansa is considering buying a majority of insolvent Air Berlin's aircraft.
After shareholder Etihad Airways withdrew funding following years of losses, Air Berlin, Germany's second-largest airline, filed for bankruptcy protection on Tuesday.
Just ahead of a September general election and as many Germans enjoy summer holidays, the news of the insolvency comes as factors that have put pressure on the German government with calls to help minimise travel disruptions and job losses.
Saying Germany needed a "national champion" in international aviation, transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt backed Lufthansa to buy a major portion of Air Berlin's assets.
"That is why it is urgently necessary that Lufthansa can take over significant parts of Air Berlin," he told daily newspaper Rheinische Post.
In order to bringing holidaymakers home and securing 7,200 jobs in Germany while buyers for its assets are found, Berlin has granted a bridging loan of 150 million euros ($176 million) that will keep Air Berlin's planes in the air for up to three months.
with Germany's largest airline keen to defend its domestic position against low-cost rival Ryanair, Air Berlin's demise offers Lufthansa and rivals a chance to acquire slots at airports such as Berlin Tegel and Duesseldorf.
The media said that it could take on as many as 90 of Air Berlin's roughly 140 planes, all of which are leased is one scenario that Lufthansa's Chief Executive Carsten Spohr has presented to the flagship carrier's supervisory board.
That would include the 38 aircraft that Lufthansa is already leasing from Air Berlin and its Niki division.
"These are ideas that Lufthansa is bringing into the talks," the source said, adding that no decisions had been made yet and that it was ultimately up to Air Berlin's administrator.
Lower than 90 was the number of aircraft that Lufthansa could take on, reported the media.
Lufthansa CEO Spohr was due to hold talks with Air Berlin's administrator and its management on Friday, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper earlier cited company sources as saying. Lufthansa declined to comment on the matter.
Air Berlin aims to strike deals with at least two of them by the end of September and has itself said it is in talks with three aviation firms.
Lufthansa, its budget carrier Eurowings and Thomas Cook's German airline Condor would likely snap up Air Berlin's most valuable landing slots, RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland (RND), a group which represents German newspapers, cited government sources as saying.
A source has said easyJet was also part of the negotiations.
Ryanair has filed a complaint with German and European Union competition authorities over the insolvency process, which its chief executive describes as a "conspiracy" and it could be one where a few slots could go, RND said.
The European Commission questions about whether German authorities did enough to uncover an emissions scandal at carmaker Volkswagen, which is partially state-owned and the country’s authorities faces allegations of maintaining a cosy relationship with its domestic industry.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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