Lufthansa Signing Deal for Air Berlin

Lufthansa Signing Deal for Air Berlin

Lufthansa Signing Deal for Air Berlin

Photo Lufthansa, Germany's largest airline, said it expected to take over 81 planes from Air Berlin, a low-priced carrier that filed for insolvency this summer.

Air Berlin has struggled in attempting to turn a profit the last 10 years, and on August 15 filed for insolvency and a loan by the government has kept planes flying while the administrator negotiated with potential buyers for different parts of the airline.

Lufthansa has spread its wings further, clinching a deal to buy up more than half of its bankrupt rival Air Berlin, in what its CEO Carsten Spohr described as "a milestone in the history of Lufthansa and Berlin". He expects the deal to get European Union approval by the end of the year.

A person who is familiar with the ongoing situation said Wednesday that Lufthansa, the largest airline in Germany, was going to acquire the Niki, the Austrian leisure travel line of Air Berlin, its regional airline LG Walter, and also some other aircraft that were short-haul.

Meanwhile, negotiations with Easyjet - the other bidder chosen for exclusive takeover talks - "are continuing", Air Berlin said, offering no information about what the British firm hopes to buy or whether any Air Berlin staff will keep their jobs.

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"We will only be able to breathe when the Commission has finally confirmed the transaction", Air Berlin boss Thomas Winkelmann said in the company's statement.

EasyJet, which has a base at Berlin's Schoenefeld airport, has been discussing acquiring 27 to 30 planes.

Italy's national airline Alitalia is in administration and seeking investors too, British leisure airline Monarch collapsed at the start of this month.

Shares in Lufthansa rose 2.8% in Frankfurt.

HSBC analysts lifted their target share price to 29 euros from 25 euros, citing the imminent agreement with Air Berlin, a new multi-year labour deal with pilots announced this week and a positive trading performance this year.

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