Lufthansa boss says the airline will tie up Air Berlin deal today

Rebecca Smith
The German carrier is in discussions with insolvent airline Air Berlin
The German carrier is in discussions with insolvent airline Air Berlin (Source: Getty)

The boss of German carrier Lufthansa said he expects to sign a deal today to pick up parts of rival Air Berlin.

In an interview with the Rheinische Post, Carsten Spohr said he expects to take over 81 aircraft from the insolvent airline, hire 3,000 people and invest a total of €1.5bn (£1.35bn).

He thinks the EU will take up to three months to review the purchase for anti-trust purposes.

Read more: EasyJet submits offer to acquire part of insolvent Air Berlin

Air Berlin filed for insolvency in August, after main shareholder Etihad refused to provide further financial support. The German government provided a bridging loan to allow all flights to operate, with all Air Berlin flights winding up by 28 October, as talks over its asset sales are set to wrap up today.

Spohr also addressed queries over the increased slice of the market the Air Berlin deal would result in.

"Although we are one of the largest aviation companies in the world, our market share is only around three per cent worldwide, and in Europe it is 14 per cent," he told the paper. "There can be no question of a supposedly threatening monopoly."

While Air Berlin and Lufthansa's low-cost branch Eurowings are the only carriers serving routes such as between Munich and Cologne, Spohr said the deal won't mean rising prices as competition "will intensify in Europe and worldwide".

Questioned over how Air Berlin ended up where it did, Spohr said the airline had "too high costs and too much debt".

Air Berlin has also been in talks with budget airline EasyJet. Last month, EasyJet submitted a proposal to take over parts of Air Berlin's short-haul business, saying they were consistent with the airline's "focused, city-based strategy in Germany".

Shares in Lufthansa were up three per cent in morning trading.

Read more: Thomas Cook's Condor airline is ready to swoop for Air Berlin planes

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