Air Berlin Plc will end flights on Oct. 28 at the latest and is encouraging employees to seek jobs elsewhere as the company’s liquidation efforts proceed, according to a letter to workers from the carrier’s top two executives.
The airline has begun talks with labor leaders on terms for letting employees go, Chief Executive Officer Thomas Winkelmann and general representative Frank Kebekus said Monday in the letter. This week marks a crucial phase for the future of Air Berlin’s staff, planes and airport slots, as weeks of intensive, exclusive negotiations with Deutsche Lufthansa AG and EasyJet Plc are set to end Thursday, they wrote.
While the bankrupt carrier is trying to find positions for its roughly 8,600 employees, they should still try to find new jobs on their own because “prospective buyers of parts of Air Berlin intend to appoint new staff in the majority of cases,” Winkelmann and Kebekus wrote. “The Lufthansa group alone has already advertised 1,000 jobs with its subsidiary Eurowings.” An Air Berlin spokesman declined to comment further on negotiations.
The airline was set up in 1978 in West Berlin and, after adopting a low-cost business model following Germany’s unification in 1990, the carrier sold shares public in 2006. Air Berlin went into insolvency administration in August when Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways PJSC, its biggest shareholder, withdrew financial support after years of losses. Winkelmann and Kebekus said in their letter that Air Berlin will have to stop flying by the end of October amid proceedings to settle with creditors and distribute assets to buyers.
The carrier is holding two job fairs for employees this week, with representatives from companies including chemical maker BASF SE, state railway Deutsche Bahn AG and retailer Zalando SE, the Air Berlin executives said. A separate bidding period for the company’s Air Berlin Technik plane-maintenance arm is to end this week, while flight operations of its Niki and LGW divisions, which remain solvent, will continue.
Purchase agreements will have to be reviewed and approved under European Union competition laws, which could take weeks or months, Winkelmann and Kebekus said.