BERLIN, Aug 19 (Reuters) - A takeover of insolvent German airline Air Berlin as a whole to keep it operating will not be possible, German deputy economy minister Matthias Machnig said on Saturday, pouring cold water on an airline investor’s approach.
“The model of Air Berlin as an independent airline has failed,” he told German radio station rbb InfoRadio on Saturday.
Germany’s Hans Rudolf Woehrl, who made a name for himself when he bought German airline Deutsche BA from British Airways for 1 euro, threw his hat in the ring for Air Berlin on Friday and said he wanted to keep it flying after buying it.
Talks on carving up Air Berlin, which said on Tuesday it was filing for insolvency, started on Friday, with Lufthansa getting the first meetings ahead of other potential bidders.
Earlier in the week, a source familiar with the matter said easyJet was among those in talks, and Thomas Cook’s German airline Condor said it was ready to play “an active role” in Air Berlin’s restructuring.
Deputy Economy Minister Machnig said it would take several investors to offer Air Berlin and its employees a long-term future, reiterating that Lufthansa would not be the only buyer of the carrier’s assets.
He dismissed a complaint by Ryanair over the handling of the insolvency process, which its Chief Executive Michael O‘Leary describes as a “conspiracy”, saying O‘Leary was welcome to play a role in Air Berlin’s restructuring.
“I am entirely willing to discuss the matter,” Machnig said. (Reporting by Gernot Heller; Writing by Maria Sheahan; Editing by Toby Chopra)