Lufthansa and Air Berlin, Credit: Wikimedia
Lufthansa has officially acquired a large fraction of bankrupt Air Berlin in a $249 million deal. Lufthansa will acquire Air Berlin’s Austrian leisure carrier NIKI Airlines (20 Airbus A320 aircraft and 830 employees), German regional carrier LG Walter (17 Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 and 13 Airbus A320 aircraft as well as 870 employees), and an additional 20 aircraft from Air Berlin.
Lufthansa will be funneling most of its recently acquired Air Berlin assets into its budget operation Eurowings, which is currently undergoing a massive expansion.
Bidding for the rest of Air Berlin is still ongoing with UK LCC easyJet looking to acquire 27 to 30 aircraft from Air Berlin. Other airlines such as Thomas Cook and its German subsidiary Condor are also in the running.
Ryanair challenges deal
Ryanair loudly removed itself from the auction of Air Berlin with CEO Michael O’Leary complaining that the sale of Air Berlin’s assets was rigged in Lufthansa’s favor by the German government. Ryanair said it will refer the deal to the European competition authority.
Lufthansa’s acquisition must be approved by the European Commission.
“This contract provides new opportunities for jobs for a large part of our workforce. But we can only really breathe again when the EU Commission approves the deal,” Air Berlin Chief Executive Thomas Winkelmann said in a statement.
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