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Lufthansa to sign deal to buy German rival Air Berlin on Thursday

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Lufthansa CEO to sign Air Berlin deal today

The Frankfurt-based carrier will sign a contract to buy 81 of Air Berlin's 144 planes and take on 3,000 of its 8,500 staff on Thursday - the last day for bidders Lufthansa and Easyjet to close their deals.

German airline group Deutsche Lufthansa AG will sign a deal on Thursday to buy parts of insolvent rival Air Berlin, reports said, citing Lufthansa's chief executive Carsten Spohr.

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

According to Reuters, Lufthansa will acquire Air Berlin's subsidiaries Niki and LG Walter, as well access to take-off and landing slots at Air Berlin's hubs at Berlin's Tegel airport and at Duesseldorf airport.

On September 25, Air Berlin said it was negotiating with Lufthansa and British low cost carrier easyJet for the sale of its assets, with a deadline of October 12 set for the conclusion of negotiations.

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

In 2016, Air Berlin showed a record 782 million euros in losses - a 75 per cent increase compared to 2015 - which the company attributed to restructuring costs and depreciation.

Air Berlin had been Germany's second-biggest carrier after Lufthansa.

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

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