Air Berlin has confirmed that a deal has been struck with Lufthansa, for the sale of more than half of the company to the German aviation giant. The deal will see Lufthansa snap up Air Berlin’s Austrian leisure airline Niki, as well as the regional carrier LG Walther.
In addition, Lufthansa will also snap up 20 of Air Berlin’s aircraft for its own subsidiary Eurowings. Lufthansa ultimately will be taking on 81 of Air Berlin’s aircraft, in a deal rumored to be worth €210/$249 million. Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spor confirmed that as a result of the acquisition, the company will be investing a total of €1.5/$1.77 billion in its new acquisitions.
While the deal was signed on Thursday, October 12, 2017, it still has to be approved by the European Union Commission. Although both Lufthansa and Air Berlin expect approval to be granted, Ryanair has stated that it will be lodging a complaint with the EU competition authorities, since Lufthansa and Eurowings would be in a very dominant position in the competitive market.
The move is seen as a spoiler by Ryanair which earlier in the year was interested in some of Air Berlin’s routes. The airline dropped out of the race after its disastrous summer.
The other most significant winner from the demise of Air Berlin is likely to be EasyJet, which is in negotiations to buy up about 20-30% of the defunct airline, purchasing between 27-30 of the company’s aircraft. Other carriers like Condor and Thomas Cook will also be snapping up smaller parts of the airline.
While seeing Air Berlin go bust is likely to reduce competition and provide fewer options for us as travelers, there is finally some good news for some of the employees of the doomed airline, who will see their jobs saved by the acquisition from Lufthansa. Hopefully, the rest of Air Berlin’s staff will also be able to save their employment.