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Pilot absences bring 'life-threatening' disruption for Air Berlin

14 September 2017

Other airlines, Ryanair included, are already waiting on the outcome of the conflict in an attempt to acquire a portion of Air Berlin's most profitable routes.

Beleaguered German airline Air Berlin has had to cancel flights en masse after it was swamped by pilots ringing in sick.

The ailing carrier was forced to cancel more than 100 flights including trans-Atlantic connections, causing chaos at several German airports.

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. At least 32 were canceled Wednesday, though Air Berlin said more pilots were returning.

Pilots union Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) said it was surprised by the absences and that it had not called on its members at Air Berlin to call in sick. But a loan from the German government is keeping the carrier afloat while attempts are made to sell off parts of the airline. At the end of the process, Air Berlin is expected to cease operating and exit the market.

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The company also said incentives offered by state and local governments will be "significant factors" in the decision. The new headquarters will bring along 50,000 high-paying jobs. "We're excited to find a second home", the CEO said.

Germany's biggest airline, Lufthansa, is seen in pole position to acquire large parts of its rival and a decision on the bids come could as early as September 21, three days before a national election.

Former Formula One driver Niki Lauda is also interested in buying back Niki, the Austrian airline he founded, which merged with Air Berlin six years ago.

The beleaguered airline says it is "currently seeing an exceptional high number of sickness reports of their pilots", which has led to dozens of cancellations.

Ryanair said on Tuesday that Air Berlin could be of interest to the Irish low-priced carrier but it didn't want to wait until after Lufthansa had finished talks.

Pilot absences bring 'life-threatening' disruption for Air Berlin