Air Berlin, Germany's second-largest airline, filed for
bankruptcy protection this month after shareholder Etihad
Airways withdrew funding following years of losses.
At least half a dozen bidders for Air Berlin's assets are now
racing to submit offers by a mid-September deadline, with around
140 leased aircraft and valuable take-off and landing slots in
Germany up for grabs, among other.
Lufthansa is especially interested in Air Berlin's routes to
U.S. cities including New York and Washington D.C., the source
said on Tuesday.
"The plan foresees stationing two of the planes in Berlin and up
to 10 in Duesseldorf," the person said.
Earlier this month, a source had said Lufthansa could take on as
many as 90 of Air Berlin's roughly 140 leased planes, including
38 aircraft it is already leasing from Air Berlin and its
leisure airline Niki.
Thomas Cook's <TCG.L> Condor, easyJet <EZJ.L> and Ryanair <RYA.I>
are also among airlines interested in the carrier's business or
parts of it, sources familiar with the negotiations have said.
Ryanair's marketing chief Kenny Jacobs said on Tuesday that the
Irish low-cost carrier was primarily interested in Air Berlin's
Chief Executive Michael O'Leary has told Reuters he would also
be interested in a bid for Air Berlin as a whole, but he has
complained Ryanair hadn't been invited to the process, which he
sees as heavily favouring Lufthansa.
German aviation investor Hans Rudolf Woehrl is also due to hold
talks over Air Berlin's assets on Wednesday, and former motor
racing driver Niki Lauda has indicated his interested in buying
back Niki, the Austrian airline he once owned.
According to Air Berlin, bidders have until Sept. 15 to submit
(Reporting by Ilona Wissenbach and Peter Maushagen; Writing by
Maria Sheahan; Editing by Tom Sims/Keith Weir)
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