German airline giant Lufthansa has confirmed it will buy a large portion of its insolvent competitor Air Berlin for around 210 million euros ($249 million). As part of the deal Lufthansa will take over Air Berlin's low-cost leisure airline Niki, its LG Walter regional airline as well as 20 additional aircraft.
Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr had earlier suggested that Lufthansa would purchase 81 of Air Berlin's 144 planes, as well as take on around 3,000 of the company's staff. He also told the Rheinische Post newspaper that Lufthansa would invest up to 1.5 billion euros into Air Berlin as part of its takeover of the assets.
"Today will be a milestone in the history of Lufthansa and Air Berlin," said Spohr in Berlin ahead of the official announcement that a formal deal had been agreed between the airlines.
The sale still needs approval from creditors and European Union anti-trust authorities to take effect.
Further negotiations to pick up the leftovers of Air Berlin are ongoing with easyJet.
Sealing the deal quickly
Air Berlin, which once employed around 8,000 people, filed for bankruptcy in August after its funding was cut off by Etihad, one of its major shareholders.
Negotiations for the sale of Air Berlin's assets, thought to include just under 150 leased aircraft as well as several sought-after landing and takeoff slots at German airports, have been ongoing for the past month.
On September 25, Air Berlin said it was negotiating with Lufthansa and British low cost carrier easyJet for the sale of its assets, with a deadline of October 12 set for the conclusion of negotiations.
Air Berlin ceases its long-haul operation on October 15 and from October 28, will no longer operate under its own banner and will fly as a service provider on behalf of the buyers.
tr/aos (AP, Reuters, dpa)