Air Berlin applied for insolvency on August 15, and sales negotiations for the second-largest German airline are scheduled for August 18. The German market leader Lufthansa wants to secure a large part of the aircraft: up to 90 of the 144 airplanes operated by Air Berlin. The German flag carrier would then fly them under its low-cost division Eurowings brand, according to Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Air Berlin had applied for insolvency on Tuesday after Etihad had withdrawn its financial support. The airline is secured by a federal loan of more than 150 million euros for about three months.

According to CEO Thomas Winkelmann, the airline has been in contact with potential buyers for weeks.

Federal Minister of Transport Alexander Dobrindt (CSU) urged that Lufthansa take over essential parts of the insolvent airline.

"We need a German champion in international aviation," Dobrindt said to the "Rheinische Post".

The Verdi trade union is afraid that the interested parties will only buy the aircraft, leaving more than 8,000 employees of Air Berlin overboard.

“Then wage losses of up to 50 percent would be feared,” said union representative Christine Behle after a conversation with Air Berlin staff manager Martina Niemann. “This perspective has shocked us quite a bit.”

Lufthansa wants to take over the already booked 38 Air Berlin jets the Austrian tourism subsidiary Niki and other aircraft. They are to be launched under the umbrella of Lufthansa's Eurowings subsidiary. The figure also includes most of the 17 long-haul aircraft of Air Berlin, which are also to go to the Eurowings.

Ryanair had sharply criticized the planned takeover of large fleets by Lufthansa and filed suit with the cartel authorities.