FRANKFURT, Germany – The head of German carrier Lufthansa announced on Thursday that his company was set to take a majority stake in failed airline Air Berlin, which filed for insolvency in the summer and was temporarily being kept afloat by a bridging loan from the German government.
Lufthansa Chairman and CEO Carsten Spohr said the giant would sign the deal later in the day, which would mean the acquisition of parts of Air Berlin, including 81 aircraft and 3,000 employees, for a price tag of 1.5 billion euros ($1.78 billion).
“We will see a milestone in the history of Lufthansa and Air Berlin today,” Spohr said.
He added that he expected the European Union to approve the deal by the end of the year.
Air Berlin declared itself insolvent on Aug. 15 after losing financial support from its majority investor, Etihad Airways, and began negotiations with Lufthansa and the United Kingdom’s easyJet, which were set to conclude on Thursday.
While it conducted the negotiations, Air Berlin’s planes were kept in the air by a government loan of 150 million euros.
In 2016, Air Berlin showed a record 782 million euros in losses – a 75-percent increase compared to 2015 – which the company attributed to restructuring costs and depreciation.