Lufthansa Group's board has approved a €1 billion ($1.18 billion) investment in the "acquisition and leasing" of 61 aircraft for low-cost subsidiary Eurowings, as talks on taking over some of Air Berlin's assets continue.
The 61 aircraft would comprise 41 Airbus A320-family jets and 20 Bombardier Q400 turboprops, says Lufthansa.
Acquisition of the aircraft is dependent on whether the negotiations to buy parts of Air Berlin are successful, adds the group, and the investment would be financed from "existing liquid funds".
Lufthansa notes that during "the last few months" it has taken 20 aircraft that are flying for Eurowings as part of a wet-leasing arrangement with Air Berlin: 15 through acquisition, plus five others on which there is "option to purchase".
Eurowings is "therefore able to grow by a total of up to 81 aircraft, subject to approval by the relevant competition authorities", says Lufthansa. The group indicates that operating the additional aircraft could create up to 3,000 additional positions, including flight- and cabin-crew roles, and that these could filled partly by hiring new staff and partly by "taking over companies of the Air Berlin group".
Lufthansa Group chief executive Carsten Spohr states: "We now have a great opportunity to make a decisive step forward with Eurowings in Europe."
He adds: "With the release of an additional investment framework for the acquisition of aircraft, the necessary prerequisites have now been created. For Eurowings, it will be a great challenge to cope with the rapid growth.
"I am particularly pleased that we can offer up to 3,000 new employees a secure perspective in the Eurowings group."