Insolvent German airline Air Berlin is planning to agree asset sales with two or more buyers by the end of September, before its government loan runs out, its chief executive has said.
Thomas Winkelmann has told German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that his carrier is in talks with three aviation firms at present.
He told the paper that all three were financially sound, “sufficiently large to offer Air Berlin a secure future”, and intended to continue operating from Germany.
The German government has granted Air Berlin a €150m bridging loan to allow the airline to keep its planes flying for three months.
Fellow German airline Lufthansa made its interest known on Tuesday when Air Berlin announced it had filed for insolvency, saying it was “already in negotiations” with Air Berlin to take over parts of the group.
Low-cost giant EasyJet has also been linked with talks to buy Air Berlin assets, but the airline has so far declined to comment on any potential involvement.
Air Berlin filed for bankruptcy protection on Tuesday, after major shareholder Etihad Airways withdrew funding, saying Air Berlin’s business had “deteriorated at an unprecedented pace”. The airline said it could not offer funding that would further increase its financial exposure.
The development has though, sparked a furious response from Irish rival Ryanair, which announced on Tuesday that it had lodged a competition complaints with the German Bundeskartellamt and European Commission.
The airline alleged an “obvious conspiracy playing out in Germany” between the German government, Lufthansa and Air Berlin “to carve up Air Berlin’s assets, while excluding major competitors and ignoring both EU competition and state aid rules”.
The German government rejected the accusation and said its support for Air Berlin did not breach anti-trust rules.