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Air Berlin furious as 'ill pilots' force flight cancellations

Air Berlin furious as 'ill pilots' force flight cancellations

Bankrupt Air Berlin said it was forced to cancel dozens of flights on Tuesday, after "an exceptionally high number" of pilots called in sick.

"Today is a day that threatens the existence of Air Berlin".

Flights from Düsseldorf to Curacao, Cancun, Havana, Varadero, Punta Cana and Puerto Plata will end on September 25, Air Berlin said.

Departures information on Air Berlin's website showed flights cancelled from a range of German airports including Berlin Tegel, Duesseldorf, Hamburg and Cologne.

It prompted the airline to accuse them of sabotaging rescue talks with potential investors.

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The Gulf-based company said last month the decline of Air Berlin was "extremely disappointing", especially as it had provided extensive support to the German carrier over the past six years, notably with a €250m (£227m) cash injection in April this year.

The airline's chief executive, Thomas Winkelmann, accused pilots of "playing with fire", as the cancelled flights would cost the company several million euro, making it less attractive to potential buyers. Stable operations are a prerequisite for the success of these negotiations.

Some 200 of its 1,500 pilots suddenly called in sick. "That's the only way we can secure as many jobs as possible".

German service-sector union Verdi argues that it is "not at all surprising" that pilots have called in sick, given Air Berlin's current situation.

Board member Christine Behle states: "All talks about insolvent Air Berlin revolve around economical interests, but not the jobs of more than 8,000 employees".


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