Is Etihad Airways willing to support the rehabilitation of Air Berlin? The highly indebted German airline wants the German taxpayer to guarantee its future. Air Berlin is trying to secure guarantees with the state governments of Berlin and North Rhine-Westphalia.
In the meantime, Etihad Aviation Group confirmed today that it has terminated negotiations with TUI AG, in relation to a potential joint venture involving the leisure operations of Air Berlin Group and the German TUIfly company.
Etihad statement continued, it had taken this decision following many months of negotiations, in good faith, during which time the parties have been unable to reach agreement on the final nature of such a joint venture.
The leisure operations of Air Berlin group will now continue to operate as a separate business unit, under the NIKI brand. Further details of this structure will be announced in due course by Air Berlin.
NIKI’s operating schedule remains unchanged with all bookings being honored. Customers should contact NIKI directly for any further information.
The heavily-hit airline is now looking for help reaching out to the political world. The airline asked the German state governments of Berlin and North Rhine-Westphalia for guarantees.
It was planned that Air Berlin would bring its subsidiary Niki into a holiday airline, which was to be established together with the TUI Holiday Tour Operator Group.
The TUI, Air Berlin and the major shareholders of Air Berlin, the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates, Etihad, had announced the plans for the new company in October 2016. The plan was to merge TUIFLY (a TUI operated holiday charter airline) with Niki as an important element for the rehabilitation of Air Berlin.
Today TUI said surprisingly that Etihad had discontinued this negotiation.
Without Etihad money, Air Berlin would hardly be able to survive. The flight company from Berlin had to report losses of 1.2 billion euros for the past two years. “We must find a partner in 2017,” said Air Berlin boss Thomas Winkelmann in an interview with “Die Zeit” newspaper.
The joint new airline should have started this summer at the end of March. According to the original plans, TUIFLY and Niki, with around 60 aircrafts, were to serve a route network of important departure points in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
With 41 air-planes, TUIFLY is the German subsidiary of the world’s largest travel company TUI based in Hanover, Germany, which operates a fleet of 140 aircraft. As the fourth largest German airline, it has 2,400 employees – including 1700 flight attendants and pilots.
According to Tui, Air Berlin’s major shareholder Etihad has now concluded the talks.
Etihad apparently wanted a perspective for the entire company Air Berlin / Niki and didn’t want to remove Niki from Air Berlin. Etihad apparently had new plans as to how the airline would operate in the future in Germany and Europe. Etihad holds 29 percent of the shares in the heavily hit Air Berlin.
It appears Etihad Airways is going through turbulent times when it comes to leadership. Longtime boss James Hogan, has left, a successor to the post has not yet been established – there is only a transitional solution. The position of the Finance Director is also to be filled.
The German market leader Lufthansa has expressed interest in Air Berlin. Lufthansa chief Carsten Spohr said that before a takeover, Air Berlin’s operating costs would have to fall, the major shareholder Etihad would have to take over the debts and the supervisory authorities of the German government would have to agree.
A part of Air Berlin has already been flying for Lufthansa since February. The Group leased 38 planes and staff for its subsidiaries Eurowings and Austrian Airlines.