Air Berlin sells four A320s for lease to Azeri and US carriers

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Air Berlin is selling four of its Airbus A320s to a company which is to lease the aircraft to Azerbaijan Airlines and Virgin America.

The aircraft will be purchased by Lionhart Aviation, which the carrier says is based in Toronto, under a transaction set to close next month.

Two A320s will go to Azerbaijan Airlines and the other two to Virgin America. Air Berlin says this will happen immediately after the sale is concluded.

Air Berlin has been restructuring its fleet to ease financial pressure. It has cut back its order backlog and today disclosed a sale-and-leaseback involving eight other aircraft.

Selling the A320s will result in a "considerable reduction" in liabilities, says Air Berlin chief financial officer Ulf Huttmeyer.

Lionhart executive vice-president Steven Layne says the lessor is trying to build a high-quality operating lease portfolio and says Air Berlin's fleet is an "extremely interesting environment".