Airberlin is confident a buyer will be found for at least part of its business after shortlisting two preferred bidders. The ailing German airline, which filed for administration in August confirmed it has entered formal negotiations with Lufthansa and easyJet over the sale of various elements of the company.
The German flag carrier has expressed an interest in acquiring wholly owned subsidiaries Luftverkehrsgesellschaft Walter (LGW) and Austrian leisure offshoot Niki, while both airlines have bid for unspecified elements of airberlin, accounting for around 80% of the company’s 12,000-strong workforce.
The airline said talks with the two parties will continue until October 12, and while it has so far declined to confirm its asking price, CEO Thomas Winkelmann said: “If the deals are finalised as planned, there is a good chance the [€150m bridging loan supplied by the Federal German Government] can be repaid.”
Elsewhere, airberlin confirmed its long-haul operations will be axed as it continues to search for a new buyer. The carrier terminated links to Los Angeles, Boston and the Caribbean on September 25 after lessors withdrew several Airbus A330s in service with the airline. The remainder of airberlin’s intercontinental services will be terminated on October 16, while its short-haul network is also under review.
This marks the latest change to the airline’s flying programme, which encountered severe disruption on September 12 after widespread sick leave among its pilots led to the cancellation of more than 100 flights. A statement from the carrier said: “airberlin is deeply disappointed by the number of sick days taken at such short notice during the crew briefing immediately before the flight, or on the way to the aircraft.” Winkelmann added that the action, by around 250 of airberlin’s 1,500 pilots, was “the equivalent to playing with fire” and would cost the troubled airline “several million euros”.