Published: Thu, September 14, 2017
Global | By Maureen Mccoy

German minister urges Air Berlin pilots to drop walkout

German minister urges Air Berlin pilots to drop walkout

"Air Berlin is now seeing an exceptional high number of sickness reports of their pilots".

About 150 pilots called in sick today, Air Berlin said.

In response, Air Berlin CEO Thomas Winkelmann accused pilots of "playing with fire".

It seems like sickness is in the air since their cancelled flights aren't.

Lufthansa (Xetra: LHAB.DE - news) 's low-priced 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.

Frank Kebekus, the company's chief representative, said the events "seriously endanger the entire insolvency proceedings under self-administration" and that if the situation did not change quickly, "we will have to cease operations and thus any restructuring efforts".

"A stable operation is an essential precondition for successful negotiations, " Winkelmann said.

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The action comes ahead of a Friday deadline for interested bidders to submit offers to take over parts of the carrier.

The airline has long struggled for survival, and booked losses amounting to 1.2 billion euros ($1.4 billion) over the past two years.

A total of about 30 flights were canceled on Wednesday after more than 100 services were axed on Tuesday, said Germany's second-biggest airline, which last month filed for insolvency.

On its website, Air Berlin cited "operative reasons" for the cancellations on Tuesday, and asked passengers to call a helpline and refrain from travelling to the affected airports.

Pilot union Vereinigung Cockpit says it is "surprised" by the cancellations and stresses that it has not called on its members to call in sick.

The Berlin carrier is expected to cancel more flights on Wednesday.

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