17 August, 2017
The agreement was part of a plan backed by Air Berlin's biggest shareholder, Gulf carrier Etihad, to restructure the loss-making Germany airline.
Air Berlin PLC, the parent of airberlin and NIKI, has filed for provisional insolvency proceedings in a court in Berlin-Charlottenburg (NIKI is not included).
The company said in a statement to the Frankfurt Stock Exchange that it had had no option after Etihad refused to offer any further financial support.
Merkel said it would not have been appropriate to leave tens of thousands of travelers stranded at vacation resorts, "because the airline would not have been able to pay for the fuel" and the plane tickets would have no longer been usable.
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Air Berlin has recorded loss of 782 million euros past year. Etihad has been propping up the ailing airline for the last six years and injected £227mn in April.
The government's loan created "prospects for Air Berlin in the light of the ongoing talks with different airlines", Baron went on, specifying that if Berlin had not acted as it did, many passengers would have been negatively affected by the situation.
The air carrier will continue scheduled flights and the government of Germany will extend a 150 mln euro loan for the restructuring period. That will allow the airline, Germany's second largest, to continue flying while it works out a possible sale of its assets. EasyJet declined to comment. In addition to ongoing negotiation "to take over parts of the Air Berlin group", Lufthansa says it is "exploring the possibility of hiring additional [Air Berlin] staff".
Ryanair has in the past made other criticisms of the relationship between Air Berlin and Lufthansa.
Etihad, which holds a 30 per cent stake in Air Berlin, said that the carrier's business "deteriorated at an unprecedented pace, preventing it from overcoming its significant challenges and from implementing alternative strategic solutions". Lufthansa has already capitalized on its German competitor's weakness by taking wet-leased aircraft from airberlin, depleting its competitor and supporting growth at its own airlines - a double win. "We are confident that solutions can be found within the framework of European Union law", a Commission spokesman said.