Rash of sick pilots grounds Air Berlin flights

German investor bids 500 mln euros for Air Berlin
Air Berlin Cancels More Long-haul Routes

13 September, 2017

Air Berlin has been forced to cancel more than 110 flights today after pilots called in sick. A decision on the fate of Air Berlin could come as quickly as September 21, three days before the German national election.

Lufthansa's low-priced subsidiary Eurowings, which is renting aircraft as well as pilot and crew from Air Berlin, said it had also been forced to cancel some flights.

The airline Air Berlin has cancelled around 70 flights, including some at Zurich Airport, because of a pilot protest over the airline's uncertain future.

Air Berlin chief executive Thomas Winkelmann suggests that pilots who have absented themselves are "playing with fire".

Mr Winkelmann said: "This day is costing us several million euros".

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Air Berlin continues to fly during the preliminary insolvency proceedings due to an EU-approved loan of EUR€150 million (USD$179 million) agreed at the beginning of September. He states: "We are in the middle of final talks with potential investors". Stable operations are a prerequisite for the success of these negotiations.

The airline filed for insolvency in August after its main shareholder, Gulf carrier Etihad, withdrew financial support.

Air Berlin has announced it will end long-haul flying, which many crew regard as the best option - it offers higher earnings and, for some, a better lifestyle.

Some 200 of its 1,500 pilots suddenly called in sick.

Christine Behle, the federal president of the United Service Union, Verdi, claimed talks about a sale of Air Berlin had not focused on the 8,000 employees and that workers were "increasingly perceived as part of a game of purely economic and political interests".

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