Lufthansa Prepares to Buy Parts of Air Berlin in $1.8 Billion Deal

Frankfurt-based Lufthansa will sign a contract to buy 81 of Air Berlin’s 144 planes and take on 3,000 of its 8,500 staff

Frankfurt-based Lufthansa will sign a contract to buy 81 of Air Berlin’s 144 planes and take on 3,000 of its 8,500 staff

Spohr said the Lufthansa Group expects to take over 81 Air Berlin aircraft, hire 3,000 of its employees and invest 1.5 billion euros as it grows low-priced subsidiary Eurowings.

Lufthansa would be interested if there was an opportunity to create a new Alitalia, the German flagship carrier's Chief Executive Carsten Spohr said on Thursday.

A Lufthansa spokesman declined to provide further details because the agreement had not yet been signed. Spohr said that adding 81 planes to the Lufthansa fleet was the maximum that competition watchdogs would accept.

"The negotiations are still underway with easyjet", Air Berlin said in a special sales meeting with Lufthansa and British airline EasyJet since 25 September 2017.

"The European Commission will look very closely at this".

"We will be referring the matter to the European Union competition authority in due course", a Ryanair spokesman.

Many internal German routes will in future only offer a choice between Lufthansa and Eurowings.

Air Berlin, the second largest carrier in Germany, will end all operation of its flights during October, capping a tumultuous summer for carriers in Europe.

But Spohr told business daily Handelsblatt today that "we expect the competition authorities to examine the takeover at least from the point of view of European competition, not limit it to the German market alone".

Air Berlin declared bankruptcy in August following years of losses and the decision of its biggest shareholder, Gulf airline Etihad, to cease financing. After the airline filed for bankruptcy, the German government issued the company a 150 million Euros loan to stay in business while negotiating the deal with Lufthansa.

German and worldwide investors and competitors lined up, with an eye not only on Air Berlin's aircraft but also coveted takeoff and landing slots at crowded airports.

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