LONDON, June 14 (Reuters) - Air Berlin is expecting a difficult 2017, Chief Executive Thomas Winkelmann told its annual general meeting in London on Wednesday, but the airline is target positive earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) next year.
Winkelmann said he was also sure leisure airline Niki would find new partners in the coming months, after key Air Berlin shareholder Etihad backed out of a plan to create a leisure airline joint venture (JV) with TUI.
Etihad has said it still plans to take Air Berlin's stake in leisure airline Niki, which had been due to go into the JV.
Air Berlin Chief Financial Officer Dimitri Courtelis said 2017 would be a transitional year, but the company was targeting positive EBIT in 2018.
"From a 2018 perspective, that's when we will start targeting a turnaround in the business, and a positive EBIT from next year," Courtelis said. (Reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by Mark Potter)