Five years after Air Berlin went bankrupt, thousands of passengers have received refunds for their tickets. According to the insolvency administrator, a total of three million euros have been paid out to 16,000 customers. They bought their ticket after filing for bankruptcy on August 15, 2017. Because Air Berlin ceased flight operations that fall, they could no longer use it. The reimbursements were secured by an escrow account set up after the bankruptcy.
Hundreds of thousands of other passengers of the once second-largest German airline are still waiting for money as creditors – those who bought tickets before the bankruptcy filing. It will probably be years before they find out whether and how much money they may still receive.
“In a procedure of this enormous extent, this will probably take at least five years,” said a spokesman for the insolvency administrator Lucas Flöther of the German Press Agency. “As far as we know, the number of well over a million creditors is unprecedented in German insolvency history.” It is correspondingly lengthy and time-consuming to examine the claims. Around 1.1 million claims were checked.
At the same time, Flöther’s team is trying to enforce Air Berlin’s claims. The insolvency administrator hopes to get hundreds of millions from the tax office, former managers and Deutsche Börse subsidiary Clearstream. Attempts to claim damages from the former major shareholder Etihad and to sue for valuable greenhouse gas emission rights have failed.
The airline’s inventory has long since been auctioned off. Airplane models, serving trolleys, chocolate hearts and more found buyers in auctions in 2018.