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Air Berlin furious as 200 pilots call in sick forcing cancellations

The day cost the struggling company millions of euro.

Image: DPA/PA Images

AIR BERLIN WAS forced to cancel dozens of flights today after “an exceptionally high number” of pilots called in sick, prompting the airline to accuse staff of sabotaging rescue talks.

Chief executive Thomas Winkelmann said employees were “playing with fire” with their apparent protest action, which comes ahead of a Friday deadline for interested bidders to submit offers to take over parts of Germany’s second-largest airline.

Air Berlin said some 200 of its 1,500 pilots had suddenly called in sick, forcing the scrapping of around 100 flights.

Both domestic and international flights were affected, including links between Berlin and Los Angeles or Dubai.

“This day is costing us several million euros,” Winkelmann said in a statement.

“We are in the middle of final negotiations with potential investors. Stable operations are a prerequisite for the success of these negotiations. That’s the only way we can secure as many jobs as possible.”

Lufthansa’s low-cost 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.

Air Berlin filed for insolvency in mid-August, after its main shareholder, Gulf carrier Etihad, unexpectedly pulled the plug on its cash lifeline.

The airline had long struggled for survival, and booked losses amounting to €1.2 billion over the past two years.

© – AFP 2017

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