Lufthansa to swallow lion's share of Air Berlin

Lufthansa Prepares to Buy Parts of Air Berlin in $1.8 Billion Deal

Lufthansa Prepares to Buy Parts of Air Berlin in $1.8 Billion Deal

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.

Lufthansa Chairman and CEO Carsten Spohr said the giant would sign the deal, which would mean the acquisition of parts of Air Berlin, including 81 aircraft and 3,000 employees, for a price tag of 1.5 billion euros ($1.78 billion), Efe news reported.

Lufthansa has yet to say how much it will pay under the deal, but Spohr told newspaper Rheinische Post today that the group would invest 1.5 billion euros (USD 1.8 billion) in its low-priced subsidiary Eurowings following the takeover.

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A Lufthansa spokesman declined to provide further details because the agreement had not yet been signed.

Lufthansa has agreed to acquire Air Berlin's Austrian leisure travel airline Niki, its LG Walter regional airline and 20 additional aircraft, Air Berlin said in a statement.

Lufthansa CEO Spohr said that he expected the imminent deal for Lufthansa with Air Berlin would receive necessary approval from the European Union before the end of 2017. "But we can only really breathe again when the EU Commission approves the deal", Air Berlin Chief Executive Thomas Winkelmann said.

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While Air Berlin officials have been in negotiations for weeks with Lufthansa and easyJet about selling parts of the business, the airline dealt with years of financial losses before its biggest shareholder, Gulf carrier Etihad, stopped financing the company.

EasyJet, which has a base at Berlin's Schoenefeld airport, has been discussing acquiring 27 to 30 planes.

Germany's second-largest carrier has since been negotiating with potential buyers for parts of its business.

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Shares in Lufthansa were up 2.8 per cent at 25.25 euros, the top gainer in Germany's DAX market index by 1505 GMT.

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