Bidding Deadline

Last Call for Air Berlin

119143433 Air Berlin behind gate dpa
Does anyone want what's behind that fence? You'd be surprised. Source: DPA

It’s not the first time Utz Claassen has shown interest in Air Berlin. Known in Germany mostly as the former CEO of one of its largest utilities, Mr. Claassen made a play for Germany’s second-largest airline back in 2011. In those days, Air Berlin’s future looked much brighter. A gleaming new airport was set to open in the German capital a year later.

Back then, Mr. Claassen lost out to Etihad. The Gulf airline bought a chunk of Air Berlin and hoped to turn it into a base for flights to Europe and even across the Atlantic to the United States. Six years later, that strategy has failed quite spectacularly: Berlin’s new airport, marred by repeated embarrassing delays, has yet to open; and Etihad, which among other things struggled to secure code-sharing deals that would allow its dream to come true, finally pulled its funding for the airline in August.

And so the once-promising Air Berlin has found itself in an entirely new position: bankruptcy. But that hasn’t stopped Mr. Claassen. The German executive on Thursday launched a new €700-million bid for Air Berlin together with a group of international investors, according to the 17-page outline obtained by Handelsblatt.

He’s hardly the only one showing interest, now that the airline is on death’s door. Air Berlin’s executives, and a court-appointed advisor, can expect to have a half-dozen offers on their table when the bidding ends at 2 p.m. on Friday.

Want to keep reading?

Subscribe now or log in to read our coverage of Europe’s leading economy.