Lufthansa has agreed to purchase portions of insolvent
German airline group Air Berlin for $249 million.
The move comes two months after Air Berlin entered insolvency
and just 16 days before the cessation of all Air Berlin-branded flights.
Lufthansa will purchase Air Berlin subsidiary Niki, a
low-cost airline based in Austria, as well as Air Berlin's regional subsidiary
Walter, which now flies under the Air Berlin brand. European regulators must
approve the sale.
Air Berlin's announcement followed an interview that
Lufthansa Group CEO Carsten Spohr gave earlier in the day to the Rheinische
Post newspaper. 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-cost subsidiary Eurowings.
Air Berlin is one of three European airlines to become
insolvent in recent months. Alitalia filed for insolvency, the European
equivalent of bankruptcy, in early May. British leisure carrier Monarch
abruptly stopped flying earlier this month.
Air Berlin said that it remains in negotiations with EasyJet
and other bidders for other portions of its assets.