UK-based LCC easyJet has signed an agreement to take on 25 airberlin Airbus A320 leases and some of the German leisure airline’s Berlin Tegel slots for €40 million ($42 million), strengthening its position in Berlin.

The deal, which was announced Oct. 30, is subject to regulatory approvals and is expected to close in December 2017. EasyJet said the €40 million investment excludes potential startup and transitional operating costs.

In addition, easyJet has launched a recruitment campaign to attract around 1,000 of airberlin’s pilots and cabin crew, who will be recruited over the coming months. These crews will be employed on local German contracts under collective labor agreements negotiated with German union Verdi.

“This will enable easyJet to operate the leading short-haul network at Tegel connecting passengers to and from destinations across Germany and the rest of Europe. This is in addition to easyJet’s existing base at Berlin Schönefeld and would mean that easyJet would be the leading airline in Berlin,” easyJet said in a statement.

An easyJet supervisory board member recently told ATW: “If the deal is finalized as planned, easyJet will get a market share in Berlin of 60%,” the source said. The LCC plans to launch German domestic flights from Berlin to Stuttgart, Dusseldorf and Munich.

EasyJet said it will make announcements on the new routes and services to be flown to and from Tegel in due course. The LCC will operate a reduced timetable at Tegel during the winter season, but plans to operate a full schedule from the summer season 2018.

Bankrupt German carrier airberlin operated its last flight Oct. 27 from Munich to Berlin Tegel. The final Airbus A320 flight carried 178 passengers. Airberlin filed for bankruptcy Aug. 15 after 29.2% shareholder Etihad Airways withdrew financial support. Several thousand employees are expected to be laid off as airberlin enters formal bankruptcy proceedings Nov. 1.

Kurt Hofmann hofmann.aviation@netway.at