New bidder for Air Berlin as €150m loan approved

A German businessman has joined the field of potential bidders for insolvent Air Berlin, proposing to focus on only a few routes to holiday destinations.

New bidder for Air Berlin as €150m loan approved

Germany’s second-largest airline filed for bankruptcy protection last month after shareholder Etihad Airways withdrew funding following years of losses.

Alexander Skora, who owns a hostel in Berlin, said he is looking at Air Berlin’s books and will then decide whether to submit a formal bid. Any bid would be made jointly with a consortium of investors from Israel, Canada, and the US, he added.

Mr Skora’s proposal would see Air Berlin return to its roots as a holiday carrier and pass on long-haul and a number of European destinations to flagship carrier Lufthansa and EasyJet.

The German government pledged a €150m loan to prevent Air Berlin’s planes from immediately being grounded, which would have stranded holidaymakers abroad and put around 8,000 jobs at risk only weeks before a national election.

The European Commission has now approved the bridging loan that will keep the insolvent airline’s planes flying while it tries to find buyers. The money will last at most until mid-November, which means the pressure is on to agree a carve-up of Air Berlin, whose assets include about 140 leased aircraft and valuable take-off and landing slots in Germany.

Lufthansa has government backing to take over large parts of Air Berlin. EasyJet and Thomas Cook’s Condor may also bid.

Reuters

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