Air Berlin files for bankruptcy but says flight schedule, bookings remain valid

Air Berlin files for bankruptcy but says bookings remain valid

BERLIN — Air Berlin has filed for bankruptcy protection less than two weeks after it opened bookings for its new Toronto-Dusseldorf flights.

The new flights, scheduled to start next year, were announced earlier this month. At the time Air Berlin said it planned to add four times weekly service between Toronto and Dusseldorf starting May 1, 2018.

Air Berlin is Germany’s second largest carrier after Lufthansa. The carrier has been posting losses for years and is in the process of restructuring its operations. In recent years it has been kept aloft by Etihad, which holds a 29.2% stake.

In a statement issued today Etihad said it had been informed that Air Berlin had filed for administration and that this development “is extremely disappointing for all parties, especially as Etihad has provided extensive support to airberlin for its previous liquidity challenges and restructuring efforts over the past six years.”

In April 2017 Etihad provided 250 million euros of additional funding to Air Berlin as well as supporting the airline to explore strategic options for the business.

“However, airberlin’s business has deteriorated at an unprecedented pace, preventing it from overcoming its significant challenges and from implementing alternative strategic solutions,” said Etihad.

“Under these circumstances, as a minority shareholder, Etihad cannot offer funding that would further increase our financial exposure. We remain open to helping find a commercially viable solution for all parties.”

Etihad said it expects Air Berlin operations to continue during administration. “We have a commercial relationship with airberlin across a range of areas, including codeshare operations, and we will support airberlin’s management during these difficult times.”

The German is stepping in with an immediate loan of 150 million euros so the airline it can continue flights for the time being.

“We’re in a time when many tens of thousands of travellers and vacationers are in multiple international holiday spots,” the Economy and Transport ministries said in a statement. “The return flights of these travellers back to Germany with Air Berlin would not have been otherwise possible.”

Economy Minister Brigitte Zypries later told reporters the money was expected to last for three months.

In December 2016 German rival Lufthansa’s Eurowings and Austrian Airlines units reached a deal to lease 38 planes from Air Berlin.

Following the bankruptcy announcement, Lufthansa said it was “supporting the restructuring efforts of the airline jointly with the German government” and that its leased aircraft would continue operating as before.

Lufthansa said it was “already in negotiations with Air Berlin to take over parts of the Air Berlin group and is exploring the possibility of hiring additional staff.”

Air Berlin’s decision comes three and a half months after another Etihad-backed European carrier, Alitalia, entered its second round of bankruptcy protection in a decade.

Etihad said at the time that Alitalia needed a “fundamental and far-reaching restructuring” and it was not prepared to keep pumping money into the struggling Italian airline.

On its website Air Berlin ( posted this statement: “airberlin has today, August 15th 2017, filed to commence insolvency proceedings … in order to continue with the restructuring process that is already underway.

“The Federal German Government, Lufthansa and other partners are supporting airberlin in its restructuring efforts. The Federal Government is supporting airberlin with a bridging loan to maintain flight operations for the long-term.

“This means:

  • All flights operated by airberlin and NIKI will continue as planned;
  • The flight schedule remains valid;
  • Bookings remain valid;
  • All flights can still be booked.”


With files from The Associated Press