September 25, 2017
Air Berlin staff hopeful of employment as Lufthansa and easyJet become front runners
It has become clear that with the passing of the deadline for submission of offers for the insolvent German carrier Air Berlin, Lufthansa and easyJet are to be the preferred option as buyers. As a consequence, up to 80% of Air Berlin employees may be successful in remaining in employment.
Currently, Lufthansa has its eyes on the Vienna-based Air Berlin subsidiary, Niki, together with the turboprop arm LGW, along with various parts of the carrier’s main business. EasyJet has its eyes on much of Air Berlin’s operations at Tegel airport. Both bidders are being given a clear run until October 12 to conclude negotiations.
Lufthansa will be looking to take on approximately 3,000 of the 8,600 Air Berlin workforce, though one area of contention will be pilot’s wages. Last week Germany’s largest carrier confirmed that its principal aim would be to acquire 78 aircraft that it currently leases from Air Berlin, and associated crew, but that it only intended to pay pilots 30% of their current salary.
Currently, Air Berlin is winding down its long-haul routes, which will cease operations completely by October 15 as lessors look to recall the fleet of wide-body Airbus A330 jets. Additionally, a number of domestic routes flown by Air Berlin will terminate at the end of this week, including Hamburg, Cologne/Bonn airports to Munich.
In the rush to strip down Air Berlin, Lufthansa is believed to have beaten out IAG – the parent company of Iberia and British Airways — and three bids of between 500 million and 600 million euros (US$600 million and US$715 million) from three separate private investors. Despite previous media reports indicating that Niki Lauda, the founder of the airline Niki, together with Condor, the subsidiary airline of Thomas Cook, were looking to make a joint-venture bid, this did not materialize.
Ryanair, the Irish low-cost airline stayed well away from the bidding as its outspoken CEO, Michael O’Leary, denounced a German “stitch-up” that heavily favored Lufthansa’s expansion of its low-cost subsidiary Eurowings.