* Comments come as government studies possible loan guarantee
* Air Berlin won’t comment on Die Welt report of loan size
* Airline scrambling to protect its roughly 8,000 jobs in Germany (Adds report from Die Welt newspaper, background)
LUDWIGSHAFEN, Germany, June 13 (Reuters) - Air Berlin is in a “precarious” situation, German Economics Minister Brigitte Zypries said on Tuesday, as the loss-making airline seeks loan guarantees from regional states.
Air Berlin, in which Gulf carrier Etihad Airways has an almost 30 percent stake, said last week it had asked Berlin and North-Rhine Westphalia (NRW) to consider loan guarantees.
The German federal government said on Friday any support would be contingent on the airline showing it had a sustainable business model.
“The situation of Air Berlin is precarious,” Zypries said at a technology conference in the southern German town of Ludwigshafen. “Otherwise, a request for a state loan guarantee wouldn’t have been made.”
Air Berlin was seeking a loan guarantee ranging from a “two-digit million euro amount to a low three-digit million euro amount”, Germany’s newspaper Die Welt reported on Tuesday, citing unnamed sources.
A spokesman for Air Berlin declined to comment.
Air Berlin, whose losses increased to a record 782 million euros ($877 million) in 2016, is scrambling to protect roughly 8,000 jobs in Germany, mainly based in Berlin and NRW.
The German carrier’s request for state help comes amid signs of waning support from Etihad. (Reporting by Peter Maushagen; Writing by Tom Sims; Editing by Harro ten Wolde and Edmund Blair)