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Lufthansa set to buy parts of Air Berlin - source

[FRANKFURT] Lufthansa is poised to agree a deal to buy assets from insolvent Air Berlin , a person familiar with the matter told Reuters, ahead of a deadline on Thursday.

Germany's largest airline is set to buy Air Berlin's Niki leisure unit, its LG Walter regional airline and some additional short-haul aircraft, the source said on Wednesday.

"The deal with Lufthansa is done, there is agreement," the person said, adding that no contract had been signed yet.

Lufthansa declined to say whether it was set to sign a deal, saying only it was confident it would meet the deadline for negotiations.

Air Berlin, which has struggled to turn a profit over the last decade, filed for insolvency on Aug 15, and a government loan has kept its planes in the air while it negotiates with potential buyers over parts of its business.

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It said late last month that negotiations with Lufthansa and Britain's easyJet would continue until Oct 12.

The operations up for grabs also include access to take-off and landing slots at Air Berlin's hubs in Tegel in the German capital and Duesseldorf.

EasyJet, which has a base at Berlin's Schoenefeld airport, has been discussing acquiring 27 to 30 planes, though a media report earlier this week said talks could fail.

EasyJet said it would not comment on ongoing discussions and would provide a further update in due course if necessary.

Meanwhile German family-owned logistics firm Zeitfracht said it had made a new offer for Air Berlin's cargo marketing platform and its maintenance business with a partner.

It declined to provide further details. A person familiar with the matter said that Zeitfracht's new bid was made jointly with maintenance group Nayak and its owners.

Air Berlin, Germany's second largest carrier, will cease operating flights this month, capping a turbulent summer for European carriers.

Italian flag carrier Alitalia is in administration and seeking investors too, British leisure airline Monarch collapsed at the start of this month, stranding thousands abroad, and low cost Ryanair has cancelled thousands of flights after a pilot rostering mess-up.


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