Air Berlin needs to find a partner by year-end – CEO Thomas Winkelmann

With mounting losses and increasingly anxious investors, Air Berlin’s CEO Thomas Winkelmann has confirmed the German carrier must find a strategic partner by year-end.

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AirBerlin’s A321 in airdusseldorf livery. Copyright: Christian Schurmann on airplane-pictures.net

“We have to find a partner in 2017, and Lufthansa is one of a few possible,” he told the weekly newspaper Die Zeit. “I examine everything that makes sense for Air Berlin and secures jobs in the long term.”

Winkelmann’s comments come after Bloomberg reported that Air Berlin’s largest shareholder Etihad was looking to bring in financial advisers to help it to decide the fate of its 29.2% stake.

The UAE carrier has been looking to extricate itself from its loss-making European investments, the most financially damaging of which are Air Berlin and Alitalia.

During 1Q17, Air Berlin recorded widening losses of EUR293.3 million (USD328 million) up 60% from the EUR182.3 million loss recorded for the same period last year.

For its part, Alitalia has filed for bankruptcy amid current liabilities of around EUR2.3 billion (USD2.6 billion) and assets worth EUR921 million (USD1.04 billion).

Lufthansa Group CEO, Carsten Spohr, has confirmed his carrier’s interest in Air Berlin although only once its rival’s EUR1 billion+ debt has been resolved. The Lufthansa Group has already entered into a commercial partnership with Air Berlin with the latter wet-leasing thirty-three A320 family aircraft to Eurowings and five A320s to Austrian Airlines.

German business magazine Wirtschaftswoche last month reported that Delta Air Lines and China’s HNA Group have also shown interest in Air Berlin.

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