German carrier airberlin will bid auf wiedersehen at the end of this month and staff are being urged to seek jobs elsewhere.
A widely reported letter to staff from chief executive Thomas Winkelmann and general representative Frank Kebekus said the airline would end flights on October 28 at the latest.
The letter came as discussions with preferred bidders Lufthansa and easyJet are drawing to a close and are expected to be completed Thursday.
Unlike the shock collapse of UK-based Monarch Airlines, airberlin’s demise was not unexpected after a string of losses and a decision by major shareholder Etihad Airways to no longer provide funding.
It has been kept flying thanks to a 150-million-euro German government bridging loan the administrators are now optimistic can be repaid.
Nonetheless, the demise of Germany’s second biggest carrier, the collapse of Monarch and problems at Ryanair have been having an impact on air fares in Europe as passengers scramble to find alternatives.
Skyscanner reported last week that airfares from the UK to Europe had surged by almost 23 per cent as travellers looked for alternative deals, with flights to Italy’s Milan and Malaga in Spain particularly hard hit.
Officials overseeing the airberlin break-up have been trying to find alternative employment for about 8600 airberlin staff and initially expressed confidence there would be employment for about 80 per cent of the workforce.
They said last month an offer from Lufthansa for turboprop arm Luftverkehrsgesellschaft Walter (LGW), the Austrian holiday airline NIKI and parts of airberlin would save several thousand jobs.
But this week’s letter warned employees they should still try to find new jobs on their own because prospective buyers of parts of the company intended to appoint new staff.
It also noted that any deal would need to be reviewed by European authorities and this could take weeks or months.
The bankrupt carrier had already announced it would cease long-haul flying on October 15 and axed other routes last month.
The group’s maintenance arm, Air Berlin Technik, is subject to a separate bidding process.
Meanwhile, the UK Civil Aviation Authority reported Monday that it had completed more than 400 flights and returned almost 80,000 people to the UK as the nation’s biggest peacetime repatriation continued in the wake of the Monarch collapse.
The CAA said it was working around the clock to bring home the remaining 30,000 passengers left stranded by the airline’s failure.
It warned this would require passengers from a number of smaller flights to be consolidated into larger aircraft.
“This will mean that more passengers are likely to return to a different UK airport than their original flight, where coach transfers will be provided ensuring that everyone gets back to where they need to be,’’ it said on its website.