Following the bankruptcy of the troubled German air carrier Air Berlin, announced in August 2017, the German state has already received almost the entire amount of the bailout package worth just under 150 million EUR.
“By the end of December 2018, we will have returned about 98 million EUR from the KfW loan”, said the Air Berlin Liquidator Lucas Flother in an interview, while by August 2018 the amount returned was 75 million EUR. “The current situation may even make it possible to repay the entire loan by the end of the year – but without the interest”, added he.
As a justification for the surprisingly high repayments of debt, Lucas Flother mentions “collateral and payment claims that have not been known so far, and we are now gradually moving to the bankruptcy”.
Currently, the trustee also checks claims for legal liability against former members of the Board of Directors and the Supervisory Board of the airline. For example, all meetings minutes of the Executive Board and the Supervisory Board for the last ten years are considered.
“This review will take place over a period of ten years before the bankruptcy procedure begins, the review itself will be lengthy and it will certainly take some time”, said Lucas Flother.
Air Berlin had to initiate bankruptcy proceedings in August 2017, after its largest shareholder Etihad stopped its financial support against the long-term loss of the company. The company’s aircraft continued to fly thanks to a bridge loan of 150 million EUR from the German government. There are many potential buyers for the carrier’s assets, with Lufthansa as the top position.
At the end of last year, the European Commission authorized the German airline Lufthansa to acquire LGW – the subsidiary of the bankrupt Air Berlin, but under certain conditions. Faced with the Commission’s hesitations, the airline that already owns Lufthansa, Eurowings, Swiss, Brussels and Austrian Airlines has dropped its claims to the division of the German smaller carrier Niki, whose airplanes continued to fly thanks to its funding, expecting to get the green light for the acquisition.
Air Berlin operated mainly from Tegel Airport in Berlin and Dusseldorf. Its fleet consisted of about 120 aircraft. In the autumn of 2016, the company announced plans to cut down to 1,200 its employees and rent a part of the fleet due to significant financial losses.
By the end of September 2016, the debts of the company were about 1 billion EUR. Around 40 aircraft were leased to the competitive Lufthansa. According to the company’s data, last year it carried 28.9 million passengers.
For years, Air Berlin has been losing. In 2016, the accumulated loss amounted to 780 million EUR. The situation worsened at the end of March 2017 with the switch to the summer schedule, after which “flight cancellations and delays” had collapsed.