Lufthansa Set To Sign Air Berlin Deal

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Lufthansa Chairman and CEO Carsten Spohr said the giant would sign the deal, which would mean the acquisition of parts of Air Berlin, including 81 aircraft and 3,000 employees, for a price tag of 1.5 billion euros ($1.78 billion), Efe news reported.

The Frankfurt-based carrier will sign a contract to buy 81 of Air Berlin's 144 planes and take on 3,000 of its 8,500 staff on Thursday - the last day for bidders Lufthansa and Easyjet to close their deals.

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"Today is a big day, which we will seal in a few hours with a signature", he said.

Lufthansa has agreed to take over a large part of Air Berlin, which went bankrupt a couple months back after years of mounting losses and the withdrawal of support from Abu Dhabi-based Etihad, its key shareholder and creditor. It made a loss of about 782 million euros previous year.

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Easyjet is negotiating with Air Berlin to possibly acquire the remaining 20 to 30 aircraft from the carrier, which a year ago ran up a loss of about 782 million euros and has debts totaling almost 1.2 billion euros.

Spohr told the Rheinischen Post he did not believe Lufthansa's deal with Air Berlin would result in higher airfares. The German government provided a bridging loan to allow all flights to operate, with all Air Berlin flights winding up by 28 October, as talks over its asset sales are set to wrap up today.

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Air Berlin's long-haul flights will cease at the end of this week, and tickets for all flights from the end of this month will be invalid.

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