Air Berlin

‘Exotic’ investors line up to bid for insolvent German airline

A hotelier, a logistics firm and a prominent energy sector executive are just a few of the possible ‘outsider’ investors in Air Berlin while aviation entrepreneur Hans Rudolf Wöhrl now plans a bid after all.

September 07, 2017
Potential Air Berlin investors are lining up
Photo: Air Berlin

An apparently exotic array of entrepreneurs has emerged this week as possible bidders for Air Berlin alongside Lufthansa, Condor and other airlines as well as former airline owners. Offers must be submitted to Air Berlin’s insolvency administrators by September 15 with a decision expected just a few days later, possibly at a creditors meeting on September 21.

The first new name to enter the bidding arena was former top energy industry manager and business turnaround expert Utz Claassen, who is reportedly considering a bid for the entire airline in cooperation with foreign investors. Then Berlin hotelier Alexander Skora, who also has no experience in the aviation industry, told German media that he would consider a bid in cooperation with investors from Israel, the USA and Canada. The third outsider to emerge was financially strong logistics firm Zeitfracht, which is based in Berlin, whose owner Wolfram Simon highlighted synergies with Air Berlin’s cargo business.

In the latest twist, former LTU and DBA owner Hans Rudolf Wöhrl, who sold both airlines to Air Berlin a decade ago, re-entered the picture yesterday after announcing his withdrawal last week. The aviation investor told German TV that he plans to make a sizeable offer together with several partners. “It will be a programme that goes into several hundred million (euros), to be paid in instalments. But even the first instalment that we’re willing to pay is very, very high,” he declared. Wöhrl had previously said that he wants to take over the entire Air Berlin group as one company and restructure it.

Lufthansa, Condor and Easyjet are seen as the three main bidders for Air Berlin, either for the whole group or for parts of it. However, the intentions of Niki Lauda, the former owner of Air Berlin’s leisure airline subsidiary Niki, remain unclear.

Meanwhile, the European Commission has approved the German government’s €150 million support for Air Berlin but laid down strict conditions including payment of instalments on a week-by-week basis rather than one single payment.

Separately, Air Berlin has confirmed it will cancel all long-haul flights from Berlin by the end of September. The airline had already said five routes would be cancelled and has now added New York and Miami to the list.

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