Monday, September 25, 2017

Airberlin details Lufthansa, easyJet bids

Airberlin said negotiations with its short list of bidders, which include Lufthansa Group and UK LCC easyJet, for parts of the insolvent carrier will continue through Oct. 12.

“There are no contracts signed,” chief representative Frank Kebekus said, adding airberlin needs a “strong partner” to survive.

Lufthansa’s bid for airberlin assets is focused on securing the 38 Airbus A319/320s it currently wet leases from the bankrupt airline. The German group is also interested in airberlin subsidiaries LGW, Austria-based NIKI and 13 Airbus A320s from airberlin’s fleet.

EasyJet submitted an offer for up to 30 airberlin A320s, which would operate mainly from Berlin.

The parties have agreed to keep the purchase price confidential. If the deals are finalized as planned, there is a good chance the €150 million ($178 million) bridge loan issued by German public credit institution KfW can be repaid.

Without the loan, airberlin CEO Thomas Winkelmann said the carrier would have been forced to ground the fleet on the weekend of Aug. 12-13, which “would have meant the immediate loss of employment for all employees.”

Kebekus said airberlin has “not yet achieved the aim of the negotiations. Stable flight operations in the coming days and weeks are essential for success. Anything else will endanger the negotiations,” he said.

Winkelmann said the insolvent carrier is “on the way to achieving good job prospects for around 80 % of airberlin’s 8,000 employees with our bidders. They have good chances to get a job with Eurowings, Austrian Airlines, easyJet or airberlin Technik, as well as in smaller parts of airberlin,” he said.

“Our common goal is to protect as many jobs as possible,” Kebekus said. “But we also have to be honest: we will not be able to save all jobs. We are currently unable to tell you how many jobs will be protected and how many may be lost.”

Airberlin said it has a clear and structured investor procedure, which will be reviewed by the European Union Commission to make sure it complies with internal market regulations.

Airberlin will cease long-haul flight operations by Oct. 15, as leasing companies gradually withdraw their A330 fleet. As a result, the Dusseldorf-Los Angeles route will be discontinued from Sept. 25. On Sept. 29, airberlin will stop services between Hamburg and Munich and between Cologne/Bonn and Munich. Further cancellations will follow Oct. 16 and more adjustments will follow.

Stable flight operations are a prerequisite for the successful completion of the forthcoming transactions and subsequent transfer into new ownership.

Several other parties submitted proposals for airberlin—Niki Lauda, who is partnering with UK-based Thomas Cook Group and its German leisure airline subsidiary Condor to bid for NIKI and other parts of airberlin; investor groups and entrepreneurs Hans Rudolf W√∂hrl and Utz Claassen; and German-based leisure carrier TUIfly, among others.

Airberlin filed for insolvency Aug. 15 after 29.2% shareholder Etihad Airways withdrew financial support.

(Kurt Hofmann - ATWOnline News)

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