Lufthansa, Easyjet reportedly to take over Air Berlin assets

IAG, the owner of Aer Lingus and British Airways, has joined the field of bidders for parts or all of insolvent German airline Air Berlin, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Top priority was “stabilising” the status of some 38 aircraft Lufthansa already “wet-leases” – including their crews – from the smaller firm, Lufthansa chief Carsten Spohr told journalists in Frankfurt on Wednesday evening.

Two other insider sources confirmed the information and told Reuters the creditor’s committee had chose to sell some of the remaining parts of Air Berlin to British low-priced airline EasyJet and may sell other assets to Condor, the German subsidiary of Thomas Cook.

The airline believes that would be the maximum number competition authorities are prepared to accept.

A creditor committee meets on Thursday afternoon to discuss offers for Air Berlin, which filed for insolvency in August after major shareholder Etihad pulled the plug on funding.

EasyJet said last week that it had submitted a proposal to the overseers of Air Berlin’s insolvency to buy parts of the company’s short-haul business.

Ryanair (RYA.I) boss Michael O’Leary has said Lufthansa would have a dominant position on domestic routes following an Air Berlin takeover.

The deadline for bids for its maintenance unit, which has about 850 employees, has been extended to October 6, Air Berlin said.

After announcing plans to start Eurowings long-haul routes from Duesseldorf this winter, following Air Berlin’s retreat there, the budget unit also intends to offer long-haul flights from Berlin Tegel airport next year, albeit starting with just one route.

Looking to the future of the European airline industry, “one of the most fragmented sectors you can imagine”, Spohr expects Lufthansa to play “an active role” in an expected wave of consolidation.

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