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Air Berlin insolvency to cost Germany 200 million euros

Staff Writer |
The insolvency of Germany's second largest airline, Air Berlin, will impose significant costs on German taxpayers, Sueddeutsche Zeitung (SZ).

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The federal government, German tax authorities and the Federal Labor Office would expect a shortfall around 200 million euros ($247.6 million), leaving aside other direct costs to customers and employees caused by the bankruptcy, SZ said, citing a recent internal report by the airline's insolvency administrators which it obtained.

Air Berlin's few remaining assets are opposed by a towering mountain of 4.4 billion euros of debt. As a consequence, its creditors are unlikely to recover much of the funds they lent to the firm.

While private sector suppliers, service and leasing partners are the most affected by Air Berlin's precarious financial situation, the German government has also provided an emergency credit facility of 150 million euros, 84 million of which have yet to be repaid.

According to the internal report, the taxpayers' claim on Air Berlin was "not secured", a circumstance which also applied to a combined 121.3 million euros in unpaid taxes and funds received by the Federal Labor Office to ensure that the airlines 7,200 employees' salaries continued to be paid between August and October 2017.

Furthermore, Air Berlin still owes its customers 30 million euros for cancelled flights, delays, and lost- or damaged luggage, 16.5 million euros of which are "unsecured".

A spokesperson for insolvency administrator Lucas Flother said customers could not expect to be reimbursed for tickets which were invalidated by the bankruptcy. The outstanding claims of employees against Air Berlin for salaries and pension payments amount to 9.5 million euros, of which 3.9 were "unsecured."

A first analysis by insolvency administrators has blamed poor management for the collapse of Air Berlin. The firm had operated in a state of "constant re-organization" and in a "constant loss-making situation", a statement read.

Given that creditors could still register claims, it was still impossible to precisely estimate the total level of Air Berlin's outstanding liabilities.

So far, the sale of parts of Air Berlin's business has only resulted in proceeds of 67 million euros, of which 22 million were paid by Lufthansa and 40 million were paid by EasyJet.

These figures exclude the recently-agreed sale of the Austrian Air Berlin subsidiary Niki to its original founder and former Formula 1 champion Andreas Nikolaus "Niki" Lauda.

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