MIAMI — Germany’s second largest carrier, Air Berlin, has set its last day of operations to October 28.
Thomas Winkelmann, the airline’s CEO, and General Representative, Frank Kebekus, released a letter on Monday notifying all its employees that liquidation is imminent and encouraging them to seek new jobs.
Flights operated by subsidiary Niki will continue operating as the airline is not insolvent. Niki will continue to fly 38 planes as part of a wet lease deal.
This week, Air Berlin will have meetings with Lufthansa and EasyJet to negotiate and find positions for its 8,600 employees.
According to Air Berlin’s administrators, Lufthansa is interested in 81 aircraft, including those of Niki and LGW (Luftfahrtgesellschaft Walter), while EasyJet is in talks for parts of the business including 27 to 30 aircraft.
“Prospective buyers of parts of Air Berlin intend to appoint new staff in the majority of cases,” Winkelmann and Kebekus said in the letter. “The Lufthansa group alone has already advertised 1,000 jobs with its subsidiary Eurowings.”
Vacancies at the low-cost subsidiary, Eurowings, were opened up for 1,000 pilots, cabin crew and ground staff. They’ve received already more than 2,500 applications.
Also, Eurowings is expected to buy aircraft from Air Belin’s fleet. The “intense” negotiations, as called by Winkelmann, are expected to end by Thursday. Also, the German Economy Minister, Matthias Machnig, said he is “confident” a deal will be reached by the end of the week.
Carriers involved in the negotiations must wait for the European Union review and approval on purchase agreements.
Air Berlin faced bankruptcy in August after Etihad Airways withdrew financial support, leading them into “insolvency administration.” The foundation of the low-cost airline was on 1978 in West Berlin and sold shares public in 2006.
A governmental loan kept Air Berlin operations to give it time to negotiate with investors and possible buyers. “After purchase contracts have been agreed, the company must end its own operations step by step,” Air Berlin said in a statement.