Insolvent German airline Air Berlin hopes to conclude talks with Lufthansa and easyJet on a carve-up of its assets by the middle of next month as it races to secure jobs and keep flying. As Sonia Legg reports, Air Berlin, which has around 8,000 employees, filed for insolvency in August after major shareholder Etihad said it would stop providing funding.
Tegel airport has been given a reprieve by Berlin's residents. A weekend referendum on its future isn't binding but it's a headache for the city's government which campaigned to close it once a new international hub is up and running. There's been no vote on the future of Air Berlin though. It filed for insolvency in August and its assets are being split between easyJet and Lufthansa. . (SOUNDBITE) (German) AIR BERLIN CEO, THOMAS WINKELMANN, SAYING: "Given the circumstances I am relieved to say that our negotiations are progressing in such a way that around 80 percent of our colleagues have a good chance of finding new jobs with the bidders." The German government bailed out the airline after major shareholder Etihad said it would stop providing funds. But the 150 million euro loan only lasts until the end of October. (SOUNDBITE) (German) AIR BERLIN FLIGHT ATTENDANT, ANNETTE MEISTER, SAYING: "We have an incredible wealth of experience, and a lot to offer. We must stick together and put ourselves out there a bit." Interest from British Airways, Thomas Cook's Condor and other investors was rejected. Unions fear many of the 8,000 jobs will be lost. (SOUNDBITE) (German) VERDI UNION REP FOR CABIN CREW, VOLKER NUESSE, SAYING: "After the reports over the last few days, we fear the worst. We have received no indication that the airlines are prepared to organise a collective transfer of Air Berlin employees." Financial details are scarce but easyJet's offer involves crews and slots for 27 - 30 plans. Lufthansa says it will need 3,000 new employees to fill the gap left by Air Berlin It's shares rose to 23 and half euros - their highest for 16 years.