Air Berlin to discuss merging part of business with TUI unit

BERLIN – Germany’s struggling Air Berlin says it will discuss transferring part of its fleet to a new group that would be set up by tour operator TUI Group and Abu Dhabi-based Etihad, a major shareholder.

Air Berlin’s announcement came after it said last week that it plans to cut its 144-strong fleet nearly in half and eliminate some 1,200 jobs as part of a restructuring to develop a leaner operation and focus on its most profitable routes.

The company said Wednesday that the discussions with TUI and Etihad could result in Air Berlin’s tour business — comprising 35 aircraft, 14 of them leased from TUI’s airline TUIfly, being merged with TUIfly.

Etihad holds 29.2 per cent of Air Berlin and their code-sharing provides important income for the German company.