Pilots ground Air Berlin flights as bid deadline nears

Sep 14, 2017, 00:52
Pilots ground Air Berlin flights as bid deadline nears

The airline's chief executive, Thomas Winkelmann, accused pilots of "playing with fire", as the cancelled flights would cost the company several million euro, making it less attractive to potential buyers.

It seems like sickness is in the air since their cancelled flights aren't.

On Sunday his company Intro offered 50 million euros immediately for the stricken airline, with up to 450 million euros of further payments "depending on performance", he said. "It is essential that operations be stable in order for these negotiations to go well", Winkelmann said.

The airline has been struggling for some time and over the past two years has announced losses amounting to 1.2bn euros (£1.1bn).

Germany's giant services sector union Verdi on Tuesday expressed solidarity with the absent pilots and warned that more workers could call in sick.

The carrier said Monday it will cancel numerous routes to the Caribbean and some United States flights from September 25, and only customers who bought tickets after the company filed for insolvency on August 15 will be reimbursed.

Air Berlin had to cancel flights at Tegel airport in Berlin
AXEL SCHMIDT REUTERS Air Berlin had to cancel flights at Tegel airport in Berlin

On its website, Air Berlin cited "operative reasons" for the cancellations on Tuesday, and asked passengers to call a helpline and refrain from travelling to the affected airports.

"All the conversations surrounding insolvent Air Berlin are always about its economic interests, never about the jobs of its more than 8,000 employees", said Verdi board member Christine Behle.

The airline has experienced financial difficulties for years, and it's only operating by a Government loan.

"The fear and anger among Air Berlin staff is escalating because the future of whole families is at stake".

Flights from Air Berlin's key hubs in Berlin and Dusseldorf were especially badly hit by cancellations, the airline said.

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