Germany’s second largest airline ‘Air Berlin’ has ended flight operations on October 27th. What will become of aircraft, routes and employees now?
This Article will inform you about everything there is to know.
Well, first of all, the Air Berlin brand is not entirely gone yet. Its Austria-registered subsidiary airline Niki is still operating flights – most of them even with the Air Berlin livery.
Niki is flying to European and north-African leisure destinations from Germany and Austria. Air Berlin itself, which has ended flights under its own callsign, is operating a few flights for the leisure airline now.
The parent company had filed for insolvency on August 15th this year, but its subsidiary airlines (even though it is planned) still haven’t.
Air Berlin Group was operating a total fleet of 124 aircraft, around 20 of them are still flying for Niki. Air Berlin’s other subsidiary, regional airline ‘Luftfahrtgesellschaft Walter’ (short: LGW) has a fleet of 20 Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 (included in the 124 aircraft).
LGW used to operate its Dash fleet for Air Berlin on short haul routes from Germany. Now most of its 20 Dashs are temporary stored at Düsseldorf airport.
An Airbus A320 (D-ABDX) of Air Berlin’s fleet was grounded at Reykjavik’s Keflavik airport on October 19th, because the airline isn’t paying charges – even before it was filing for insolvency. The aircraft was finally flown to Berlin’s Schönefeld airport for storage on November 1st.
Almost all Air Berlin aircraft are stored at airports all over Europe now.
The final flights
Air Berlin’s very final arriving flight was #AB6210 from Munich to Berlin Tegel (the airline’s home base), it has landed on October 27th at 23:45 local time in the German capital. Thousands of fans, employees and media reporters (including Airlive) gathered at the two airports to say goodbye to the truly loved airline.
The final flight to Düsseldorf airport (Air Berlin’s other hub) was #AB8719 from Rome. It has arrived just a few minutes before the very last flight to Berlin.
— WERT (@SpieleWERT) October 28, 2017
Both flights were completely booked out.
Who will take over Air Berlin’s fleet?
After Air Berlin had filed for insolvency on August 15th, the government gave the airline a transitional loan of 150 million Euro, so the carrier can continue operations until buyers are found. Irish Ryanair strongly criticised the credit and sued the German government. The EU commission later dismissed complaints by the low-cost carrier.
Many European airlines (including Lufthansa, Ryanair, easyJet and Thomas Cook) were originally interested in taking over parts of the now-gone airline. Ryanair later withdrew its bid for large parts of Air Berlin.
At the end of September, Lufthansa and easyJet were selected exclusively for internal talks about a possible takeover.
On October 12th, it was announced that Lufthansa Group will take over 81 Air Berlin group aircraft for 210 million Euro. LH will invest another 1.5 billion Euro into the airline. The 81 aircraft include all of Air Berlin’s subsidiaries Niki and LGW.
Lufthansa’s CEO Carsten Spohr said, it may take the European Union and Germany up to three months to make antitrust checks and give green light for the takeover.
Earlier, on September 26th, Lufthansa’s Supervisory Board approved a one billion Euro investment for the acquisition of up to 61 aircraft for Eurowings – most of them will come from Air Berlin.
Lufthansa wants to completely transform Air Berlin’s leisure airline Niki, with its fleet of around 20 aircraft, into it’s low-cost subsidiary in 2018. Niki is starting flight operations for Eurowings on November 1st.
Air Berlin’s subsidiary for regional turboprop flights, LGW, will also be taken over by Lufthansa’s Eurowings. LGW operated a one-time flight for the low-cost carrier on October 30, from Stuttgart to Nuremberg and back. It will start scheduled flights for Eurowings from Düsseldorf to several short haul destinations (including Europe’s largest airports London Heathrow and Paris Charles de Gaulles) on November 1st – but still with its own crew, service and livery.
LGW’s Dash routes (operated under Eurowings’s callsign) include:
- DUS – Birmingham EW9334 (starting 01NOV)
- DUS – Milan Malpensa EW9826, EW9822, EW9824 (starting 02NOV)
- DUS – Paris CDG EW9402 (starting 02NOV)
- DUS – Manchester EW9342 (starting 03NOV)
- DUS – London Heathrow EW9466 (starting 04NOV)
- DUS – Zurich EW9776, EW9766 (starting 05NOV)
- DUS – Stockholm Arlanda EW9216, EW9212 (starting 07NOV)
- DUS – Vienna EW9750, EW9752 (starting 09NOV)
You can find more routes here.
LGW’s Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 fleet will be rebranded to Eurowings. Dash flights in Eurowings’s name and livery will start on January 15th, 2018. They will replace ex-Air Berlin routes. The first four routes (starting 15JAN) are:
- DUS – Copenhagen
- DUS – Stuttgart
- DUS – Bologna
- DUS – Florence
More routes to follow.
British low-cost carrier easyJet will take over 25 Air Berlin Airbus A320 aircraft (including slots for short haul routes) for 40 million Euro and base most (or all) of them at Berlin’s Tegel airport.
The airline is intending to use the additional A320s on domestic routes in Germany and on flights from Berlin’s Tegel airport.
easyJet said they aim to be “the leading provider for short haul flights to and from Tegel”.
Three ex-Air Berlin routes are very likely to be transferred to the British carrier:
- TXL – Düsseldorf
- TXL – Stuttgart
- TXL – Munich
Many other routes will follow.
easyJet currently has no flights to Tegel, they are only serving secondary airport Schönefeld in Berlin. Operations to and from TXL are expected to start in winter, maybe even this year.
German leisure carrier Condor is interested in taking over some Air Berlin aircraft as well, but only ‘if the conditions are good’.
There are a total of 18 ex-AB aircraft remaining, after Lufthansa is taking 81 and easyJet 25.
Air Berlin Technik (its maintenance subsidiary) and Air Berlin leisure Cargo will be taken over by German freight company ‘Zeitfracht‘.
Now that Air Berlin is gone, there are huge gaps in capacity, especially at Berlin Tegel airport.
To fulfill the demand, Lufthansa, Swiss and Austrian Airlines are using widebody aircraft (including A330-300, A340-600 and B777-200) on some flights to Berlin’s Tegel airport.
Lufthansa will fly the Boeing 747-400 60 times to Tegel in November. The first domestic B744 flight from Frankfurt to Tegel is going to be #LH168 on November 1st.
Additionally, the German flag carrier has announced two new transatlantic routes: Düsseldorf to Miami (3x weekly) and Berlin Tegel to New York JFK (5x weekly). Both routes are due to start on November 8th (operated by Airbus A330-300 aircraft) and will be transferred to Eurowings in summer 2018.
The Berlin-JFK route is also the first time that Lufthansa is basing a wide body aircraft in the German Capital since 2001.
Eurowings is starting many new short-haul routes from Berlin (Tegel), Düsseldorf, Munich, Cologne, Hamburg, Nuremberg, Stuttgart, Salzburg and Zurich in January 2018 as well as increasing the frequency of existing routes. 35 of them were served by Air Berlin before.
The airline has also announced several long haul leisure destinations from Düsseldorf airport:
- DUS – Punta Cana EW1140 (starting 08NOV, 2x weekly)
- DUS – Varadero EW1130 (starting 11NOV, 1x weekly)
- DUS – Puerto Plata (starting 14DEC, 1x weekly)
- DUS – Cancun (starting 18DEC, 1x weekly)
- DUS – Orlando (starting 18DEC, 2x weekly)
The flights will initially be operated by a Privatair Boeing 767-300 (HB-JJF) with Eurowings titles.
On October 12th Lufthansa Group CEO Carsten Spohr confirmed three more Eurowings long haul routes from Düsseldorf Airport, all starting in Summer 2018:
- DUS – New York JFK
- DUS – Los Angeles
- DUS – Fort Myers
More new Eurowings routes from Düsseldorf Airport to follow.
Routes Düsseldorf to New York and Düsseldorf to Fort Myers were served by Air Berlin until October 16th. The DUS to LAX route had been suspended by Air Berlin on September 25.
Eurowings is also planning future long haul flights from Munich and Berlin, up to 3 Airbus A330s are going to be based at Munich airport by the end of 2018.
Lufthansa Group warns of a possible shortage in capacity on many routes to, from and within Germany.
To replace the now-gone Air Berlin long haul flights from Düsseldorf to the Caribbean, Thomas Cook owned Condor has started non-stop transatlantic routes from Düsseldorf airport to leisure destinations there.
The following routes have been announced:
- DUS – Punta Cana DE2168 (started 02NOV, 2x weekly)
- DUS – Cancun DE2156 (starting 05NOV, 1x weekly)
- DUS – La Romana (starting 10NOV, 1x weekly)
- DUS – Montego Bay (starting 13NOV, 1x weekly)
- DUS – Barbados (starting 20NOV, 1x weekly)
The routes will be operated by Canadian charter airline Air Transat in a wet-lease agreement, using Airbus A330-200 aircraft (with Condor livery).
This is the first time Condor is operating long haul flights from Düsseldorf airport.
Thomas Cook is also starting a new airline called ‘Thomas Cook Airlines Balearics’, which will operate flights from Mallorca to several German airports.
New airline Azur Air Germany will fly charter flights from Düsseldorf to Varadero and Punta Cana in the Caribbean.
Low-cost carrier Norwegian is interested in starting long-haul flights from Düsseldorf as well, but they have not mentioned any specific plans yet.
The Scandinavian airline has decreased flight frequencies for short and medium haul flights to and from Düsseldorf airport for the winter 17/18 season.
There are mostly bad news for the more than 8000 people working for Air Berlin. The airline has already sacked hundreds of employees and more are likely to follow.
Air Berlin employees have criticised ex-CEO Thomas Winkelmann with a song called “Dear Mr. CEO” on YouTube. They sing “How do you sleep while the rest of us cry“.
The video has a few hundred thousand views.
Thomas Winkelmann’s wage of more than 950,000 Euro a year for being Air Berlin’s CEO will continue to be paid to him until 2021, even though Air Berlin has filed for insolvency in August this year and he was CEO for only 6 months.
Lufthansa Group will (together with 81 aircraft) take over around 3000 Air Berlin employees, most of them will be hired for its low-cost subsidiary Eurowings.
Eurowings employees are warning about joining the airline due to low wages and very bad working conditions ‘even below Ryanair level’ for many employees.
They say most people working for Eurowings Europe ‘would go to Ryanair if they had the possibility to do so’.
An open letter by Eurowings employees said: “Lufthansa used to stand for reliability, fairness, social responsibility and justice, but this has changed with the foundation of Eurowings Europe”.
Eurowings Europe’s boss Robert Jahn commented: “This letter contains false claims and is highly damaging to business.”
easyJet will take over about 1000 Air Berlin employees (which is a lot for 25 aircraft).
Verdi (German United Services Trade Union) has praised the sale to the British airline. They said “It’s good news, 1000 Air Berlin employees will have a ‘real chance’ and a secured future without dumping wages”
This article is constantly being updated. Last update on November 8th.