airberlin axes long-haul as carve-up talks continue.

by Steve Creedy - editor
1112
September 26, 2017
Air Berlin A320 basnkruptcy
Officials hope 80 per cent of the airberlin workforce will stay employed. Photo: Christian Brinkmann/airberlin.

Bankrupt German carrier airberlin will cease long-haul flying by October 15 as leasing companies progressively withdraw widebody Airbus A330 jets.

The airline on  Monday cancelled its Dusseldorf-Los Angeles service and said it would axe its Hamburg- Munich and Cologne/Bonn- Munich services from September 29.

The moves come as the board is negotiating to carve up the company between preferred bidders Lufthansa and Britain’s easyJet.  Among those also bidding was British Airways parent IAG.

Talks are set to continue with the suitors until October 12 and the parties are not revealing the purchase price. However, German media have reported creditors expect the sale to realise 250-350 million euros.

“Further adjustments to the flight plan will follow in the coming days,’’ airberlin  said in a statement. “Stable flight operations are a prerequisite for the successful completion of the forthcoming transactions and subsequent transfer into new ownership.”

Officials overseeing the break-up of Germany’s second biggest carrier hope that up to 80 per cent of employees will stay in work as part of the deal.

They said  an offer from Lufthansa for turboprop arm  Luftverkehrsgesellschaft Walter (LGW), the Austrian holiday airline NIKI and parts of airberlin would save several thousand jobs.

EasyJet’s offer to take over some of the airberlin fleet “will also create job opportunities for new employees’’.

“We are on the way to achieving good job prospects for around 80 per cent of our colleagues with our bidders,’’ said airberlin chief executive Thomas Winkelmann.

“Furthermore, there is currently great demand for qualified employees on the labour market.

“The Federal Employment Office will therefore inform our company headquarters in Berlin about available vacancies.”

Airberlin entered administration after loss-making Gulf carrier Etihad, which owns almost 30 per cent or the carrier, refused to stump more cash. It was kept flying thanks to a 150-million-euro German government bridging loan the administrators are now optimistic can be repaid.

Lufthansa has indicated it would take about 3000 of the airberlin’s workforce of more than 8000 as it looks to secure more than 70 single-aisle planes, including 38 it already leases.

However, the chief representative from administrator Kebekus and Zimmerman, Frank Kebekus, cautioned that the carrier had “not yet achieved the aim of the negotiations”.

In what appeared to be a move to short circuit any backlash from staff, Kebekus warned any move to threaten the stability of flight operations would endanger the negotiations.

Almost 200 pilots called in sick at short notice earlier this month, causing the company to cancel 110 flights.

Insolvency administrator Lucas Flother also rejected suggestions that politics had played a role in the in selecting investors as “completely absurd’’.

“In fact, such attempts would be pointless and inconsequential,’’Flother said. “I would simply not allow such a thing to happen.’

Bids for  airberlin technick, the carrier’s maintenance arm, are due by October 6 and several parties are said to have expressed interest.