Thomas Cook's Condor
preparing offer for Air Berlin planes: source
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[August 24, 2017]
By Victoria Bryan
BERLIN (Reuters) - Thomas Cook's
German leisure airline Condor is interested in taking on a number of
planes from insolvent Air Berlin <AB1.DE>, a source familiar with the
negotiations said on Thursday.
The leisure airline is "in the process of preparing a concrete offer",
the source said, adding Condor was interested in mainly short-haul
routes, and also some long-haul ones.
Air Berlin, Germany's second largest carrier, filed for insolvency last
week after major shareholder Etihad pulled the plug on funding.
The race is on for interested parties to agree a deal for parts of its
business, including planes and crew, which would bring access to
take-off and landing slots at airports such as Duesseldorf, Berlin Tegel,
Munich and Hamburg.
German flagship carrier Lufthansa <LHAG.DE>, which was first to talk
with Air Berlin, on Wednesday said it had presented a term-sheet to the
insolvent carrier, setting out its interest in taking over parts of the
Air Berlin group.
A source had said Lufthansa was interested in Austria-based Niki, which
flies routes to tourist destinations from Germany and Austria, plus
other parts of the business.
Air Berlin's planes are currently being kept in the air thanks to a 150
million euro ($177 million) government loan. But if the money runs out
and Air Berlin is grounded, the slots go into a pool where they will be
divided up among airlines, a process that industry experts say would
play more into the hands of Ryanair <RYA.I> and easyJet <EZJ.L>.
Thomas Cook repeated an earlier statement that it stood ready to play an
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People watch an aircraft operated by German carrier Air Berlin
landing in Berlin's Tegel airport, Germany, August 23, 2017.
Its interest in a "double-digit" number of planes was first reported by
EasyJet is also interested in up to 40 planes, with slots in Berlin and Hamburg,
Handelsblatt reported. The British budget carrier declined to comment.
Ryanair has also said it would be interested in a bid for the whole of Air
Berlin, as has German aviation investor Hans Rudolf Woehrl.
Woehrl said on Thursday he had been invited to talks with Air Berlin next week.
Meanwhile, Lufthansa's budget unit Eurowings seemed to be making an early
attempt to attract any Air Berlin staff keen to find a new job while
negotiations are still ongoing.
Eurowings on Wednesday announced a recruitment drive, saying it was seeking
around 200 pilots and 400 cabin crew qualified to fly and crew A320 planes. It
did not specifically mention Air Berlin in the announcement on its website.
($1 = 0.8481 euros)
(Editing by Maria Sheahan and Mark Potter)
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