easyJet (U2, London Luton) has announced it has reached an agreement with the administrator of Air Berlin (AB, Berlin Tegel) wherein the UK-headquartered budget carrier will take over the dry-leases on up to twenty-five A320 aircraft currently in service for the bankrupt German operator.

The deal, which has been in the offing since earlier this summer, still requires approvals from Air Berlin's creditors committee, the solicitor in its insolvency proceedings, and the European Commission. If given, easyJet plans to recruit 1,000 new employees in Berlin and will "primarily" base the A320 family aircraft at Berlin Tegel where it will also assume its slots. The transaction is valued at approximately EUR40million (USD46.5million) and is expected to close in December 2017.

The tie-up also signals that talks between Air Berlin and Condor (DE, Frankfurt Int'l) over a similar, if smaller, deal, have now ended albeit unsuccessfully.

In its statement confirming the agreement, easyJet emphasized its strategy of pursuing either the number one or number two position at Europe's leading airports and said it eagerly anticipated becoming Berlin's leading airline going forward. It added that it plans to operate a "reduced timetable" from Tegel during the upcoming winter season but plans to have up to 25 aircraft operational by the end of March 2018.

"This will enable easyJet to operate the leading short-haul network at Tegel connecting passengers to and from destinations across Germany and the rest of Europe," it said.

In terms of its existing German capital operations, Berlin Schönefeld is currently easyJet's sixth largest base behind London Gatwick, Geneva, Milan Malpensa, London Luton, and Amsterdam Schiphol. From Schönefeld, the LCC will serve Amsterdam, Athens Int'l, Barcelona El Prat, Basle/Mulhouse/Freiburg, CH, Bordeaux, Bristol Int'l, Budapest, Copenhagen Kastrup, Edinburgh, Geneva, Glasgow Int'l, Larnaca, Lisbon, Liverpool, London Gatwick, London Luton, Luxembourg, Lyon St. Exupéry, Malaga, Manchester Int'l, Marseilles, Milan Malpensa, Naples Capodichino, Newcastle, GB, Nice, Palma de Mallorca, Paris Orly, Pisa, Pristina, Salzburg, Santa Cruz de La Palma, Tallinn Lennart Meri, Tel Aviv Ben Gurion, Tenerife Sur, Thessaloniki, Toulouse Blagnac, Venice Marco Polo, Vienna and Zurich this winter season using twelve based aircraft.