German leisure carriers Air Berlin and TUIfly are in advanced merger negotiations, industry sources said yesterday.
The two carriers are understood to be undergoing due diligence by external auditors at this moment. Details of the planned combination — which is likely to take place under the Air Berlin roof — have yet to emerge and neither company is prepared to comment officially.
The sudden turn of events comes after separate and exclusive talks to combine TUIfly, Lufthansa affiliate Germanwings and Thomas Cook’s leisure carrier, Condor, failed. A merger of the three carriers would have created a third large German airline roughly equivalent in size to Air Berlin, but with financially powerful shareholders Lufthansa, TUI and Thomas Cook. The combination would also have taken the three airlines off their parents’ balance sheets, a move the three groups have been trying to accomplish for several years.
source: Aviation Week