Mass pilot 'sickie' grounds Air Berlin flights

Mass pilot 'sickie' grounds Air Berlin flights
Insolvent German airline Air Berlin has announced the cancellation of more than 100 flights, Tuesday. The measure comes as pilots have called in sick in curiously high numbers, Reuters reports.

Almost 200 pilots, mainly captains, have called in sick, according to Air Berlin.

The company’s website reveals canceled flights from several German airports including Berlin Tegel, Duesseldorf, Hamburg, and Cologne.

Last month, Air Berlin, the Germany’s second-largest airline filed for bankruptcy protection shortly after its principal shareholder Etihad Airways announced the withdrawal of funding for the carrier.

Etihad held 29.2 percent of Air Berlin and has reportedly withdrawn financial support following years of losses.

Earlier this year, the Abu Dhabi-based carrier said it would stop financing another European airline Alitalia, which had returned to making a loss. Etihad owns 49 percent of the Italian airline.

Air Berlin received a transitional loan of €150 million from the German government. The allowance may reportedly keep the carrier afloat until mid-November with its German jobs put at risk.

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

Later, Irish low-cost airline Ryanair accused Lufthansa and the German government of conspiracy to carve up the assets of the collapsed airline. Berlin denied the accusation, saying the support for the carrier did not breach anti-trust rules.

Bidders have until September 15 to submit offers. A decision on the fate of Air Berlin could come as quickly as September 21, three days before the German national election.