World News

Air Berlin says talks with easyJet continue

Air Berlin says talks with easyJet continue

As part of the deal Lufthansa will take over Air Berlin's low-priced leisure airline Niki, its LG Walter regional airline as well as 20 additional aircraft - bringing the total to around 80 planes.

Talks to sell some of Air Berlin's remaining assets to Britain's easyJet and other bidders are continuing, Air Berlin said, without providing details.

Lufthansa Chairman and CEO Carsten Spohr said the giant would sign the deal, which would mean the acquisition of parts of Air Berlin, including 81 aircraft and 3,000 employees, for a price tag of 1.5 billion euros ($1.78 billion), Efe news reported.

The deal has sparked controversy in the European aviation sector, with the German government facing accusations it helped steer the process under a plan to build the Frankfurt- based carrier into an all-conquering juggernaut.

He added that 80 planes was the largest addition to Lufthansa's fleet that competition authorities would accept.

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.

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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".

Germany's second-largest carrier has since been negotiating with potential buyers for parts of its business.

While it conducted the negotiations, Air Berlin's planes were kept in the air by a government loan of 150 million euros.

The operations available also include access to slots for taking off and landing at hubs for Air Berlin in Tegel in the capital of Germany as well as Dusseldorf.

Shares in Lufthansa were up 2.8 per cent at 25.25 euros, the top gainer in Germany's DAX market index by 1505 GMT.


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