Lufthansa Signing Deal for Air Berlin

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

Air Berlin, which has struggled to turn a profit over the last decade, filed for insolvency on August 15, and a government loan has kept its planes in the air while it negotiates with potential buyers over parts of the business.

The CEO said that a milestone in Lufthansa's history will be seen in Berlin on Thursday.

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.

The budget Irish airline said it would take the €210m deal to European competition authorities.

Air Berlin had been Germany's second-biggest carrier after Lufthansa.

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While Air Berlin officials have been in negotiations for weeks with Lufthansa and easyJet about selling parts of the business, the airline dealt with years of financial losses before its biggest shareholder, Gulf carrier Etihad, stopped financing the company.

A person who is familiar with the ongoing situation said Wednesday that Lufthansa, the largest airline in Germany, was going to acquire the Niki, the Austrian leisure travel line of Air Berlin, its regional airline LG Walter, and also some other aircraft that were short-haul.

Earlier this week, dpa reported that the airline said in a letter to employees that flights under the airline code AB "according to the current state of things, will no longer be possible after October 28 at the latest".

Shares in Lufthansa rose 2.8% in Frankfurt.

Air Berlin carried an average of 80,000 people a day, but endured losses of an estimated 782 million Euros a year ago.

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