Air Berlin transfers redundant pilots to Etihad

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Etihad Airways is taking over pilots from Air Berlin as the loss-making German airline - part-owned by the Gulf carrier - cuts back operations.

More than 50 pilots will be transferred from Air Berlin to Etihad, says the Abu Dhabi-based carrier. The move comes as the latter plans to increase its 1,400-strong pilot workforce by about 1,000 additional flightcrew members by 2020, while Air Berlin is making 10% of approximately 9,000 employees redundant under the "Turbine" turnaround programme.

The first batch of Air Berlin pilots started their conversion training in Abu Dhabi in April. These six Boeing 737 first officers who will be flying Etihad 777s as co-pilots.

But the Gulf carrier is also recruiting Airbus A320 flightcrew - both captains and co-pilots - as well as first officers of A330s and other types in Air Berlin's fleet.

Etihad is due to take delivery of four 777s, six A320-family aircraft, two A330s and its first 787 and A380 by the end of 2014.

The pilot recruitment from Air Berlin is part of a "broader process to strengthen our alliance with equity group partners", says James Hogan, Etihad's chief executive.

With a 29% stake in Air Berlin, Etihad is the German airline group's largest shareholder.