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Eurowings wins union backing to speed up hiring amid Air Berlin turbulence

Lufthansa budget unit Eurowings has agreed a deal with the Verdi union that will allow it to hire new cabin crew at short notice from rivals such as bankrupt Air Berlin.

Eurowings launched a recruitment drive last month, seeking around 200 pilots and 400 cabin crew qualified to fly and crew A320 planes.

Air Berlin also flies A320 planes and so the drive is a chance for staff to get hired without waiting for talks on a carve-up of the carrier to finish.


Eurowings, which did not mention Air Berlin staff specifically in its statement, said it had received over 1,000 applications for the positions and had started conducting interviews.

On Wednesday Eurowings plans to hold talks with pilots’ union Vereinigung Cockpit with the aim of being able to take on captains and first officers at short notice as well, it said.

The deal with Verdi, which Eurowings says will take into account applicants’ previous experience, comes after a similar agreement with union UFO, which also represents cabin crew. Workers at Air Berlin, which employs more than 8,000 staff, are currently waiting to see how the airline will be divided up among interested parties, with a final decision expected by a creditors’ committee on September 25.

Lufthansa has made an offer for parts of the airline, with one source saying Germany’s largest carrier was interested in up to 90 planes, including Austrian holiday airline unit Niki’s fleet and 38 crewed planes it already leases from Air Berlin.

Industry investor Hans Rudolf Woehrl has offered to buy Air Berlin in its entirety while Britain’s easyJet has made a bid for parts of its short-haul business.

Former Formula One champion Niki Lauda has teamed in a bid with German airline Condor, part of Thomas Cook. Lauda has said he is interested in buying back Niki, an airline he set up in 2003.

British Airways owner IAG has also joined the fray, sources have told Reuters, while German family-owned logistics firm Zeitfracht has offered to buy Air Berlin’s cargo marketing platform, its maintenance business and regional unit LGW.


Eurowings and Condor are already stepping in to fill some of the gap left by Air Berlin cancellations, setting up new routes to the Caribbean which will begin in November.