Deadline for submission of tenders: Many candidates to take over Air Berlin

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The second largest German airline, officially bankrupt, has received several offers for a full or partial takeover. The choice of the future buyer must be made on 25 September, the day after the German elections and four days later than originally planned.

At the end of the deadline set this Friday by the Board of Directors of Air Berlin, several potential buyers have shown interest.

The interest of most contenders appears to be concentrated on the approximately 140 Air Berlin aircraft and their take-off and landing slots, not on the buyout of the entire company. According to a source close to the negotiations, the deadline of this Friday fixed for the submission of tenders is however not definitive and if there are new proposals in the coming days, they would also be taken into account.

Air Berlin is the second biggest airline in Germany. More than 8,000 jobs are at stake.

The different offers

LUFTHANSA

The first German airline said Friday it had made an offer for Air Berlin assets, without further details. A source told Reuters that Lufthansa plans to offer at least €100 million to acquire up to 90 aircraft, including 21 Airbus A320 and A321 from the Austrian subsidiary Niki and the 38 aircraft it already leases from Air Berlin for its subsidiary Eurowings.

EASYJET

The British low-cost airline is targeting about 40 aircraft, according to press reports, but only said on Friday that it had submitted a bid for part of Air Berlin’s short-haul business.

CONDOR and NIKI LAUDA

Former F1 world champion Niki Lauda said in the Austrian press that he would partner with German airline Condor, a subsidiary of British tour operator Thomas Cook, for a joint bid of a hundred million euros on Niki, the company he had founded, and 17 Air Berlin planes.

RYANAIR

The low-cost Irish carrier said on Thursday it will not bid on Air Berlin assets, its chief executive Michael O’Leary believes the procedure is not transparent and gives an unfair advantage to Lufthansa.

ZEITFRACHT

The German family logistics group is proposing to buy Air Berlin’s freight commercialization platform, its maintenance division and its regional subsidiary LGW, which operates 20 Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 aircraft. He believes that his proposal, the amount of which has not been disclosed, could save a thousand jobs at Air Berlin.

HANS RUDOLF WÖHRL

This aviation investor, founder of Intro Aviation (which earlier took over Cityjet and VLM airlines from Air France before reselling them) has proposed to buy the entire Air Berlin airline in several installments for a total amount of €500 million, with a first payment of €50 million. He promises to keep Air Berlin intact as a charter company instead of dismembering it.

LINKGLOBAL LOGISTICS

The Chinese group expressed interest but asked to have more time, until 21 September, to make an offer.

UTZ CLAASSEN

Utz Claassen, the former chairman of the board of the German utility company EnBW, raised €100 million to buy Air Berlin and promised an additional cash contribution of €600 million, media reports said.

ALEXANDER SKORA

The German businessman said early September to submit a joint bid with unidentified international investors. He also said he wants to reduce the network of Air Berlin.

Decision scheduled for September 25

A committee of Air Berlin creditors will meet on 21 September to discuss the various proposals and the choice of the buyer must be made on 25 September, the day after the German elections and four days later than originally planned. The German trade union Ver.di criticized the decision of the directors to delay the announcement of the choice of the buyer.

Christine Behle, who represents Verdi on the Air Berlin Supervisory Board, said:

“This deferral is at the expense of employees, who are waiting for a decision on their jobs and their future” 

Source: L’Echo, Reuters, Libération

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