The final flight of bankrupt Air Berlin is set to land in the German capital Friday evening, as the fate of thousands of employees of the stricken carrier remains unclear. After nearly 40 years in the sky, Germany's second-largest airline will bow out with the last scheduled flight departing Munich at 9:35 pm (1935 GMT) and arriving at Berlin's Tegel airport at 10:45 pm. The farewell flight, on an Airbus A320 carrying 178 passengers and eight crew, promises to be an emotional one, with the airline saying all seats were snapped up well in advance. "Today, on October 27, 2017, an aviation era comes to an end," it said in a statement. "Air Berlin says thank you." Tegel airport has promised to keep its viewing platform open later than usual to allow visitors to witness Air Berlin's final homecoming. The flight may, however, not technically be the last Air Berlin plane to hit the runway, as a delay has been announced on a flight from Majorca that will see it arrive in Berlin close to midnight. Several Air Berlin flights are also landing in Duesseldorf airport for the last time on Friday evening. Air Berlin, which employs some 8,000 people, triggered bankruptcy proceedings in August after its biggest shareholder Etihad Airways pulled the plug on a cash lifeline following years of losses. The struggling airline was able to keep flying until now thanks to a 150-million-euro ($175 million) bridging loan from the German government, giving it time to negotiate the sale of its assets. German flagship carrier Lufthansa is taking the biggest chunk, buying 81 of the insolvent airline's 144 aircraft. It also plans to hire up to 3,000 Air Berlin staffers. The defunct carrier remains in talks with British low-cost airline EasyJet and Thomas Cook's German subsidiary Condor for other parts of its business. But the fate of thousands of Air Berlin employees still hangs in the balance. "Even on this last day of flight operations many employees are heading into an uncertain future," pilots' union Cockpit said. "Instead of reliable information from the old and new owners, there are no details about what's going to happen next." Red-and-white liveried Air Berlin has flown over half a billion passengers since its first take-off in 1979. Affectionately dubbed the "Majorca Shuttle", it was especially popular with German holidaymakers headed for Spanish beach destinations.
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