Lufthansa to buy bits of bankrupt Air Berlin today

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Air Berlin declared itself insolvent on August 15 after losing financial support from its majority investor, Etihad Airways, and began negotiations with Lufthansa and the United Kingdom's easyJet, which were set to conclude on Thursday.

Germany's biggest airline Lufthansa will buy more than half of the aircraft of its bankrupt competitor Air Berlin, chief executive Carsten Spohr said on Thursday.

Mr. Spohr said that he expects that it will take up to one year for Lufthansa to fully integrate Air Berlin's aircraft and teams.

Air Berlin has since late September been negotiating exclusively with Lufthansa and United Kingdom -based low-priced rival EasyJet.

"Today will be a milestone in the history of Lufthansa and Air Berlin", said Spohr in Berlin ahead of the expected announcement that a formal deal has been agreed between the airlines.

The deal was reported Thursday morning by the Rheinische Post and confirmed to Fortune by Lufthansa.

Air Berlin has already said that it is hopeful that 80 percent of its employees will be able to find new jobs. The company continued its operations through a government loan, while its administrator was negotiating with prospective buyers for parts of its business, the reports noted.

Air Berlin had been Germany's second-biggest carrier after Lufthansa.

Air Berlin's long-haul flights will cease at the end of this week, and tickets for all flights from the end of this month will be invalid. The deal comes only a day after Lufthansa pilots ended a dispute over pay and conditions stretching back over a year, which had involved repeated strike action and the loss of customer confidence.