Lufthansa is Gobbling Up Bankrupt Air Berlin

Sean Gallup Getty Images

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-priced subsidiary Eurowings.

Talks to sell some of Air Berlin's remaining assets to Britain's easyJet and other bidders are continuing, Air Berlin said, without providing details.

The German flag carrier Lufthansa said it expected to sign an agreement on Thursday to buy parts of Air Berlin, a low-priced carrier that filed for insolvency this summer.

A successful outcome is expected to create new jobs for Air Berlin employees, and this sales process is also a good chance to repay German government's 150 m-euro bridge loan to Air Berlin.

Lufthansa has spread its wings further, clinching a deal to buy up more than half of its bankrupt rival Air Berlin, in what its CEO Carsten Spohr described as "a milestone in the history of Lufthansa and Berlin". Spohr said that adding 81 planes to the Lufthansa fleet was the maximum that competition watchdogs would accept.

"We will be referring the matter to the European Union competition authority in due course", a Ryanair spokesman.

"We will only be able to breathe when the Commission has finally confirmed the transaction", Air Berlin boss Thomas Winkelmann said in the company's statement.

Air Berlin, the second largest carrier in Germany, will end all operation of its flights during October, capping a tumultuous summer for carriers in Europe.

The budget Irish airline said it would take the €210m deal to European competition authorities.

Air Berlin, which once employed around 8,000 people, filed for bankruptcy in August after its funding was cut off by Etihad, one of its major shareholders.

In the race for exclusive talks, Lufthansa and Easyjet reportedly beat out IAG - owner of Iberia and British Airways - and three bids of between 500 million and 600 million euros apiece from private investors.

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