Air Berlin pays back €150 million government loan

Air Berlin Airbus A330 in July 2017. This aircraft is now flying for Virgin Atlantic. Photo: © Leonard Leinroth / IFN

Air Berlin’s liquidator says the airline was able to pay back a €150 million (US $165 million) loan it received from the German government in August 2017.

The loan was intended to keep the airline flying for a short period of time after it filed for insolvency on August 15th, 2017. Air Berlin was able to continue regular operations until October 27th in the same year, when it ceased operations.

While the airline was not able to find a buyer during this time, the loan did help reduce damages for passengers, employees and business partners, as Air Berlin could prepare for a somewhat organised end of operations in October 2017.

It comes as a surprise that the carrier, which used to be Germany’s second largest airline, was able to pay the whole €150 million back. At the time the company filed for insolvency and the loan was given, many critics questioned whether Air Berlin even had a chance of clearing it off entirely. The company agreed to return this government-funded loan before looking to other parties which it owes money to.

However, the defunct airline still has to pay the nine percent interest rates to KfW, the German state-owned development bank. According to liquidator Lucas Flöther, these interests have so far amounted for a total of more than €27 million (US $30 million).

Air Berlin was founded in 1978 as ‘Air Berlin USA’ in the German capital Berlin. At its peak, the now defunct airline operated a fleet of more than 140 airplanes. It filed for insolvency in August 2017, after major shareholder Etihad Airways stopped financial support. The last ever Air Berlin flight touched down at its home base Berlin Tegel Airport at 11:44 pm local time on October 27th, 2017, eleven days after the airline had already ceased long-haul flying.