Lufthansa to sign deal with bankrupt Air Berlin

Germany's Lufthansa to buy Air Berlin assets

Germany's Lufthansa to buy Air Berlin assets

Mr Spohr said he expected the imminent Air Berlin deal to receive European Union approval by the end of the year, allowing operations to stabilise within about six to nine months.

Lufthansa will sign a deal on Thursday to buy parts of its insolvent smaller German rival Air Berlin, Lufthansa's chief executive Carsten Spohr said.

Spohr said, "Today is a big day, which we will seal in a few hours with a signature".

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A Lufthansa spokesman declined to provide further details because the agreement had not yet been signed.

Investors also appeared pleased with news of the proposed deal, as shares in Lufthansa traded 3% higher by lunchtime on Thursday.

Air Berlin, which has struggled to turn a profit over the last decade, filed for insolvency on 15 August, and a government loan has kept its planes in the air while its administrator negotiates with prospective buyers for various parts of the business.

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Earlier this week, dpa reported that the airline said in a letter to employees that flights under the airline code AB "according to the current state of things, will no longer be possible after October 28 at the latest".

In 2016, Air Berlin showed a record 782 million euros in losses - a 75 per cent increase compared to 2015 - which the company attributed to restructuring costs and depreciation. It also announced it would be reducing the number of destinations it flies to from 140 to 70. It made a loss of about 782 million euros previous year.

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