Air Berlin says Tuesday's flight cancellations threaten its existence

Air Berlin sees flight operations stabilizing on Thursday staff memo

Insolvent Air Berlin said it has cancelled around 70 flights so far on Tuesday, affecting both its own operations and flights it carries out for Lufthansa's Eurowings, after pilots called in sick in unusually high numbers.

"The fear and anger among Air Berlin staff is escalating because the future of whole families is at stake".

The Oneworld member says it normally operates 750 flights a day but had to make cancellations because around 200 of its 1,500 pilots had declared themselves unfit to fly.

The ailing carrier was forced to cancel more than 100 flights, including transatlantic connections, as a result of the sick notices, causing chaos at several German airports.

Shortly after the insolvency announcement bidders lined up to acquire Air Berlin's assets with major European airline Lufthansa the most likely.

"We are in the middle of final negotiations with potential investors. That is the only way to secure as many jobs as possible", Mr Winkelmann said.

"Besides, long-haul flights are not affected as Air Berlin is not operating any Airbus A330 on behalf of Eurowings".

Air Berlin, Germany's second-largest airline, filed for bankruptcy protection last month after shareholder Etihad Airways withdrew funding following years of losses.

Germany's giant services sector union Verdi expressed solidarity with the absent pilots and warned that more workers could call in sick.

German press estimated that over 100 national and worldwide flights were to be grounded, affecting schedules at Berlin's Tegel airport, Düsseldorf, Munich and others.

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