Cracks starting to show in Air Berlin takeover talks

Talks between Air Berlin and bidders Lufthansa and EasyJet are reportedly at risk of falling apart.

A report in the German media has suggested EasyJet has reduced its offer for the purchase of up to 30 planes, while there is disagreement over landing rights with Lufthansa, which is bidding for other parts of Air Berlin.

Flights operated by Air Berlin are set to end by October 28 at the latest, with staff being urged to seek jobs elsewhere while the airline works toward a carve-up of its assets.

Air Berlin filed for insolvency in August after major shareholder Etihad stopped providing funding, and a government loan is keeping its planes in the air to give it time to negotiate with investors.

Meanwhile, Ryanair — which had shown interest in Air Berlin — is expected to comfortably retain its high global ranking, this year, in terms of passenger numbers.

New International Air Transport Association (IATA) figures show that global airline passenger numbers grew by 7% last year to 3.8bn.

Ryanair was ranked fifth busiest airline, globally (behind Southwest, American, Delta and China-Southern Airlines) with 112m.

Despite the ongoing fallout from its pilot rostering problems, the airline expects to carry around 129m passengers in its current financial year, which runs to the end of next March.

Analyst suggestions that the fundamental investment attraction of Ryanair hasn’t changed still carried weight yesterday as the company’s shares held relatively firm at around €16.40.

Ryanair’s flight-cancellation crisis yesterday entered its fourth week on the back of news of chief operating officer Michael Hickey resigning and reports of pilots seeking to create an unofficial union.

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