Bankrupt German carrier airberlin has inked an 11th-hour deal with easyJet to take up to 25 aircraft and station them primarily at Berlin’s Tegel airport.
The deal, valued at €40 million, came as airberlin operated an emotional final flight into Tegel on Friday, ending almost 40 years of aviation history for Germany’s second biggest carrier.
The pilots changed the flight number to BER4EVR as the flight landed from Munich late at night to a water arch from fire-fighters and a welcome from an assembled crowd of staff and others.
“Air Berlin thanks on this sad day all the staff, partners and passengers who passed us who have given their hearts and their loyalty for many years,” the company said in a statement.
The final flight comes as the pilot of the airline’s last long-haul service are being investigated for a dramatic fly-past earlier this month.
The A330 aircraft from Miami flew low across the runway before pulling up and banking sharply left. It landed on its second approach
Airberlin was put into administration after a string of losses and a decision by major shareholder Etihad Airways to no longer provide funding.
It was kept flying while the sales deals were done thanks to a 150-million-euro German government bridging loan.
The company has sold low-cost airline NIKI and regional airline LG Walter to Lufthansa, transferring about 3000 jobs in the process.
It also has a deal to sell freight subsidiary Leisure Cargo to Zeitfracht and maintenance arm Air Berlin Technik to the Nayak/Zeitfracht group of companies with 300 jobs saved.
The German carrier said that the deal with easyJet would see the British company advertise for about 1000 employees in Berlin.
The easyJet deal, which includes take-off and landing rights at Tegel, is still subject to approval by the creditors committee, airberlin’s liquidator and the European competition authority in Brussels.
But chief representative Frank Kebekus said the creditors were pleased with the outcome.
“With this we have reached a final important milestone in the tenderer negotiations,’’ he said “All parts of airberlin are now sold. ”
The defunct airline’s chief executive, Thomas Winkelmann, said the company had achieved its goal.
“After the Lufthansa Group, we succeeded in successfully concluding the sales negotiations with easyJet, another heavyweight in the European airline industry,’’ he said. “This is good for airberliners, who receive attractive job opportunities in Berlin. “
EasyJet said the investment was consistent with its strategy of “of purposeful investment in strong number one positions in Europe’s leading airports (or number two to a legacy incumbent)”.
“This will enable easyJet to operate the leading short haul network at Tegel connecting passengers to and from destinations across Germany and the rest of Europe,’’ it said.
“This is in addition to easyJet’s existing base at Berlin Schönefeld and would mean that easyJet would be the leading airline in Berlin.”
The British carrier said it would make announcements on the new routes and services to be flown to and from Tegel in due course.
It plans to operate a reduced timetable at Tegel during the winter season but expects to operate a full schedule from the summer season, 2018.