Thomas Winkelmann has confirmed Air Berlin (AB, Berlin Tegel) is in talks with a total of three aviation firms over the proposed sale of its assets, of which one is Lufthansa Group.

Germany's second largest carrier filed for insolvency earlier this week after its largest shareholder, Etihad Airways (EY, Abu Dhabi Int'l), refused to continue funding its operations. It is currently surviving off a EUR150 million euro (USD176 million) German government-guaranteed bridging loan.

Speaking to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), the CEO of Air Berlin said he hopes to reach agreements to sell assets to two or more buyers by the end of September, around the time when the loan is expected to exhaust itself.

Though he did not specify the firms, other German media outlets have said they include easyJet and TUI Group's TUI fly (Germany) unit. Thomas Cook Group's Condor as well former dba (Germany) and LTU International Airways investor Hans-Rudolf Wöhrl, have also expressed an interest a report by Capital has claimed.

For its part, Lufthansa has proposed acquiring as many as ninety of Air Berlin's roughly 140 leased aircraft including the thirty-eight already being leased to its Eurowings (EW, Düsseldorf Int'l) unit. The seventeen A330-200s Air Berlin operates are seen as particularly alluring to Eurowings given its ambitious longhaul growth plans.

The FAZ report also speculates that, anti-competitive concerns aside, Air Berlin's Niki (HG, Vienna) production unit may also be absorbed into Eurowings where it would operate as an independent carrier but with Eurowings overseeing both its branding and its distribution. Consequently, the brand Niki would disappear from the sky.

Other Air Berlin assets that are certain to garner a strong market response are its landing/take-off slots at its Berlin Tegel and Düsseldorf Int'l hubs.