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 first Dash routes (operated under Eurowings’ 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 and international short/medium haul flights from Berlin’s Tegel airport.
easyJet said they aim to be “the leading provider for short haul flights to and from Tegel”.
The airline has announced four domestic routes, replacing ex-Air Berlin flights:
- TXL – Düsseldorf (DUS)
- TXL – Frankfurt (FRA)
- TXL – Stuttgart (STR)
- TXL – Munich (MUC)
Further route information can be found here and below in the article.
easyJet currently has no flights to Tegel, they are only serving secondary airport Schönefeld in Berlin. Operations to and from TXL are due to start in early January, 2018.
German leisure carrier Condor is interested in taking over some Air Berlin aircraft as well, but only ‘if the conditions are good’.
Air Berlin Technik (its maintenance subsidiary) and Air Berlin leisure Cargo will be taken over by German freight company ‘Zeitfracht‘.
Air Berlin’s long haul aircraft, 17 A330-200, were returned to their lessors and are now stored at airports all across Europe.
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 was #LH168 on November 1st.
On November 22nd, Lufthansa announced, that they are extending their domestic Boeing 747 operations to December 21st.
Additionally, the German flag-carrier has launched two new transatlantic routes: Düsseldorf to Miami (3x weekly) and Berlin Tegel to New York JFK (5x weekly). Both routes started on November 8th (operated by Airbus A330-300 aircraft) and will be transferred to Eurowings in summer 2018.
The Berlin – New York JFK route is also the first time that Lufthansa is basing a wide body aircraft in the German Capital since 2001.
Eurowings has announced many new short-haul routes from Berlin (Tegel), Düsseldorf, Munich, Cologne, Hamburg, Nuremberg, Stuttgart, Salzburg and Zurich, as well as an increased frequency for existing routes, starting in late 2017 and early 2018. Most of them were served by Air Berlin before.
The airline is also starting several long haul leisure destinations from Düsseldorf airport this year:
- DUS – Punta Cana EW1140 (starting 08NOV, 2x weekly, operated by A340-300 from Q2 2018)
- DUS – Varadero EW1130 (starting 11NOV, 1x weekly)
- DUS – Puerto Plata (starting 14DEC, 1x weekly)
- DUS – Cancun (starting 18DEC, 1x weekly, operated by A340-300 from Q2 2018)
- DUS – Orlando (starting 18DEC, 2x weekly)
The flights will initially be operated by a Privatair Boeing 767-300 (HB-JJF) with Eurowings titles.
The airline currently flies 7 long range aircraft, consisting of 6 A330-200 and one temporary leased 767-300. Eurowings plans to add another 14 long haul aircraft until the end of 2018, many of them will be operated by Brussels Airlines.
The 14 aircraft include the following types:
- A330-300 (operated by Brussels Airlines)
- A340-300 (ex-Lufthansa CityLine, operated by Brussels Airlines)
Additional details about Eurowings’ planned long haul fleet expansion to follow as soon as we know them.
On October 12th Lufthansa Group CEO Carsten Spohr confirmed four more Eurowings long haul routes from Düsseldorf Airport, all starting in the Summer season 2018:
- DUS – New York JFK (starting 28APR, 6x weekly) – operated by Brussels Airlines A340-300
- DUS – Miami (starting 03MAY, 3x weekly) – operated by Brussels Airlines A330-300
- DUS – Fort Myers (starting 04MAY, 3x weekly) – operated by Brussels Airlines A330-300
- DUS – Los Angeles (starting date not known yet)
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.
easyJet will base up to 25 ex-Air Berlin Airbus A320 aircraft at Berlin’s Tegel Airport. The airline has announced four domestic and 15 international non-stop destinations from there, starting in early 2018.
The airline says, it put almost one million seats (to and from Tegel) on sale between January 5th and March 24th, 2018.
Routes to and from Tegel include (only routes with 15+ weekly flights listed):
- TXL – Düsseldorf (starting 07JAN, 26x/week)
- TXL – Frankfurt (starting 07JAN, 68x/week)
- TXL – Munich (starting 07JAN, 102x/week)
- TXL – Stuttgart (starting 07JAN, 54x/week)
- TXL – Copenhagen (starting 07JAN, 28x/week)
- TXL – Palma de Mallorca (starting 07JAN, 28x/week)
- TXL – Paris CDG (starting 07JAN, 28x/week)
- TXL – Rome Fiumicino (starting 07JAN, 26x/week)
- TXL – Stockholm Arlanda (starting 01MAR, 28x/week)
- TXL – Vienna (starting 07JAN, 68x/week)
- TXL – Zurich (starting 07JAN, 68x/week)
You can find a full list and more details here.
Additional routes will be announced for the summer 2018 season, which starts on March 25th, 2018.
The takeover of 25 Air Berlin aircraft by easyJet is still waiting for approval by German and EU competition regulators.
Therefore, easyJet has signed a deal with Latvian charter airline SmartLynx, to wet-lease six Airbus A320 aircraft from 7 January 2018 to 31 March 2018 and use them on flights to and from Berlin Tegel.
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 launched:
- DUS – Punta Cana DE2168 (from 02NOV, 2x weekly)
- DUS – Cancun DE2156 (from 05NOV, 1x weekly)
- DUS – La Romana (from 10NOV, 1x weekly)
- DUS – Montego Bay (from 13NOV, 1x weekly)
- DUS – Barbados (from 20NOV, 1x weekly)
The flights are being 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 fly routes 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 adding further short and medium-haul routes and even starting long-haul flights from Düsseldorf as well, but it has 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.”
Brussels Airlines is looking for Düsseldorf based Airbus A340 pilots, to operate long haul flights for Eurowings.
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 December 8.