Air Berlin cancels flights after pilots call in sick

Bankrupt German airline Air Berlin has said its existence has been threatened by an apparent wildcat strike by staff, after 200 of its pilots called in sick at short notice on Tuesday.

Lufthansa's low-priced division Eurowings - which is wet-leasing Airbus A320-family jets from Air Berlin - has been affected.

Lufthansa - which already leases 38 of Air Berlin's 140 planes - could buy up to 70 aircraft with as many as 3,000 crew for Eurowings, German media had reported.

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

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"We are now conducting final talks with potential investors".

"This day is costing us several million euros", Winkelmann said in a statement.

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

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

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They announced the cancellation of more than 100 flights on Tuesday.

Air Berlin said once it had received the offers from potential investors on Friday, it hoped to reach a decision by September 21.

"That's the only way we can secure as many jobs as possible", he added.

Christine Behle, the federal president of the United Service Union, Verdi, claimed talks about a sale of Air Berlin had not focused on the 8,000 employees and that workers were "increasingly perceived as part of a game of purely economic and political interests".

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