German investor bids €500 million to buy up Air Berlin

German investor Hans Rudolf Wöhrl has unveiled a €500-million offer for bankrupt Air Berlin, hoping to buy the country's second-largest airline whole rather than see it split up.

German investor bids €500 million to buy up Air Berlin
File photo: DPA.

“We worked hard to be able to make this offer, with help not only from experts but also supportive comments and suggestions from employees, passengers and business partners of Air Berlin,” the Bavarian airline tycoon wrote in a Facebook post late Sunday.

Nuremberg-based Wöhrl first rose to prominence when he bought airline Deutsche BA from British Airways for a symbolic one euro in 2003, later selling it to Air Berlin.

On Sunday his company Intro offered 50 million euros immediately for the stricken airline, with up to €450 million of further payments “depending on performance”, he said.

Intro wants “Air Berlin as a whole” rather than buying up chunks, Wöhrl emphasised, urging other potential buyers nosing around the airline like Lufthansa, Condor, TUI, Germania and Austrian former Formula One driver Niki Lauda to join his offer.

But he added that the firm could if necessary buy up all of Air Berlin's assets, including 140 leased aircraft and prized landing and takeoff slots at German airports.

The German government has argued that competition rules prevent any single airline taking over Air Berlin, the country's second-largest carrier after Lufthansa.

After losing the lifeline of regular cash infusions from Gulf carrier Etihad in June, Air Berlin filed for insolvency on August 15th.

The firm has given potential buyers until September 15th to make offers.

In the meantime, the airline has been kept aloft by a hastily-agreed 150-million-euro loan from the German government.


‘Close seven airports now’: How environmental group wants to change how Germans fly

A damning new report suggests the German government is propping up inefficient airports with huge subsidies. It proposes a new grid of a small number of airports connected by high-speed trains.

‘Close seven airports now’: How environmental group wants to change how Germans fly
Rostock-Laage airport, where passenger numbers have been dropping. Photo: DPA

Most of us have probably never heard of them, but Kassel-Calden, Rostock-Laage and Niederrhein-Weeze are all airports you can fly from in Germany.

The problem is, hardly anybody ever uses them. Only three planes took off from Kassel-Calden on Wednesday morning. No commercial flights are taking off from Rostock-Laage for the next two days.

These are just some of the 14 regional airports that were analysed by the environmental organisation BUND. Each of the airports serves between 300,000 and 2 million passengers annually.

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The report found that seven of the airports were of no use in terms of connecting local populations to hub airports and should be closed immediately. 

An analysis of the flight plans of the airports found that they rarely connected to hubs, instead flying to holiday destinations in Egypt, Spain and other warmer destinations.

All but two of the airports should be closed down in the medium term, the report concluded.

It also found that the airports had been propped up with €200 million in subsidies over the past four years.

“We are demanding a stop for all subsidies and tax rebates for regional airports in Germany and the EU,” said BUND chairman Olaf Bandt.

BUND proposed instead that Germany reduce its number of airports to just eight large hub airports, all of which would be connected to the national rail network with high speed connections. 

The proposal would see Lufthansa and Deutsche Bahn, both at least partially owned by the state, working together on creating an efficient network of rail and air connections.

The Association of German Airports, ADV, rejected the report's findings, saying that regional airports contribute to local economies while providing ways for migrant populations to travel home in the summer.

The financing of regional airports in Germany is in line with European law and the objectives of the EU White Paper 'Roadmap to a Single European Sky European transport area'”, the ADV said.