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Lufthansa bailout talks hit snag, drag on - Handelsblatt

FILE PHOTO: Aircraft of the German carrier Lufthansa are parked on the tarmac, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, at the airport in Frankfurt, Germany March 24, 2020. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski/File Photo

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Talks over a 9-billion euro German government bailout of Lufthansa LHAG.DE have hit a snag and will continue over the weekend, a German newspaper reported on Friday.

The issue involves a demand from the government that Lufthansa accept delivery of all planes it has ordered from Airbus AIR.PA, putting a significant financial burden on the troubled airline group, Handelsblatt reported, citing unnamed sources.

The planes would cost the ailing carrier more than 5 billion euros ($5.5 billion) in the coming three to four years, which Handelsblatt said would make the airline’s recovery practically impossible.

The dispute means there will be a further delay to the rescue package. A meeting of Lufthansa’s supervisory board, which was due to discuss the terms on Friday, has been postponed until Monday, the report said.

A German government spokeswoman, when asked about the report, said there was no update on the issue. Lufthansa earlier Friday also declined to comment on the status of talks.

Lufthansa, seeking to weather the coronavirus pandemic and what is expected to be a protracted travel slump, had said on Thursday it was in advanced talks that would see Germany take a 20% stake.

German cabin crew union UFO said on Friday it was “regrettable” that negotiations with the government did not appear to involve provisions to preserve jobs.

“We would really wish that the government, when it provides money to help Lufthansa, would also help the employees,” UFO spokesman Nicoley Baublies told Reuters TV.

UFO members were prepared to accept hardship but only if jobs could be preserved, he said.

Reporting by Reuters TV staff and Thomas Seythal; Additional reporting by Tom Kaeckenhoff; Writing by Vera Eckert and Tom Sims; Editing by Alexander Smith and Maria Sheahan

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