|Founded||1978 as Air Berlin USA|
|Destinations||114 including seasonal destinations|
|Company slogan||Your Airline|
|Parent company||Air Berlin PLC & Co. Luftverkehrs KG|
|Headquarters||Airport Bureau Center
|Revenue||€ 4.08 billion (2015)|
|Net income||€ -446.6 million (2015)|
Air Berlin PLC & Co. Luftverkehrs KG (FWB: AB1), branded as airberlin or airberlin.com, is Germany's second largest airline, after Lufthansa, and Europe's ninth largest airline in terms of passengers carried. It maintains hubs at Berlin Tegel Airport and Düsseldorf Airport and operates a route network that includes a total of 17 German cities, some European metropolitan and several leisure destinations in Southern Europe and North Africa, as well as intercontinental services to destinations in the Caribbean and the Americas.
Air Berlin is a member of the Oneworld alliance, and owns the subsidiaries NIKI in Austria and Belair in Switzerland. It is listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. Etihad Airways is the largest shareholder, having increased its shareholding to 29,21% in 2011. Air Berlin is headquartered in Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, a borough of Berlin.
- 1 History
- 2 Corporate affairs
- 3 Destinations
- 4 Fleet
- 5 Services
- 6 See also
- 7 Citations
- 8 External links
1978-1990: American charter airline in West Berlin
Originally registered as Air Berlin USA, the company was founded in 1978 as a wholly owned subsidiary of Lelco, an American agricultural enterprise headquartered in Oregon, to operate charter flights on behalf of German tour operators from Berlin Tegel Airport, mostly to Mediterranean holiday resorts. As a United States airline, Air Berlin was able to access the West Berlin airline market. During the Cold War, Berlin's special political status meant that the air corridors into and out of Tegel Airport could only be used by airlines registered in France, the United Kingdom or the United States. The airline's headquarters were initially at Tegel Airport. Leonard Lundgren was the first chairman.
After the company was issued an airline licence and acquired two Boeing 707 jet airliners previously owned by Trans World Airlines, Air Berlin USA commenced revenue services on 28 April 1979 with a flight from Berlin-Tegel to Palma de Mallorca. Plans were made to start long haul flights on West Berlin-Brussels-Florida routes, in cooperation with Air Florida (an agreement to that effect had been signed in February 1979).
In 1980, the Air Berlin USA fleet grew to include the Boeing 737-200, when two aircraft of that type were leased from Air Florida. By 1982, the 707s had been phased out, and during most of the 1980s, Air Berlin USA operated only a single 737-200 or (from 1986) a 737-300. In 1990 and 1991, two more modern Boeing 737-400s were put into service.
1990-2000: New owners and the start of low-cost flights
The Peaceful Revolution and the ensuing German reunification led to significant changes to the Berlin aviation market, since German airlines gained access to the city. In 1991, Air Berlin (which had 90 employees at the time) was bought by Joachim Hunold (de), a former sales and marketing director with LTU International, and restructured as Air Berlin GmbH & Co. Luftverkehrs KG, a German-registered company. Following an order for ten Boeing 737-800, Air Berlin grew and by 1999, the fleet comprised twelve aircraft. In 2001, Air Berlin and Hapag-Lloyd Flug became the first airlines in the world to have their Boeing 737-800s fitted with blended winglets, wingtip devices that are intended to improve fuel efficiency.
Air Berlin introduced scheduled flights (which could be booked directly with the airline rather than via a tour operator) in 1997, initially linking a number of secondary German airports to Majorca. By 2002, 35 percent of Air Berlin's tickets were sold directly. In the same year, the route network grew to include destinations other than typical holiday resorts: Low-fare flights to London, Barcelona, Milan and Vienna started. They were marketed as City Shuttle. Besides Berlin-Tegel, these routes were opened at six German airports (Dortmund, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Münster/Osnabrück, Nuremberg, and Paderborn/Lippstadt) that until then had not been served by one of the rising European low cost carriers. In what later would become a hallmark for Air Berlin as a "semi-low cost carrier", the airline offered complimentary meals and seat reservations. This was something its competitors Buzz, Hapag-Lloyd Express, Ryanair and Virgin Express did not do.
2000-2006: Becoming Germany’s second largest airline
In November 2001, the delivery flight of Boeing 737-800 fitted with winglets set a record: the aircraft with the registration code D-ABBC flew 8,345 kilometres non-stop from Seattle (BFI), USA to Berlin (TXL), Germany in 9 hours, 10 minutes.
In 2005, Air Berlin signed a partnership agreement with Germania. As part of the deal, Air Berlin leased some of Germania's aircraft and crew, and Germania became almost exclusively a charter airline. Plans were made for Germania to be associated with Air Berlin under a management contract. However, the contract was not signed. At the beginning of March 2008 Germania’s joint owners could not reach agreement on the takeover by Air Berlin, so Germania remained an independent airline. A joint Air Berlin/Germania subsidiary dubbed Air Zürich and planned to be based at Zurich Airport was proposed in 2005, but did not materialize.
In 2005 the Group reorganised its corporate structure. It established Air Berlin plc (registered in England) into which it reversed Air Berlin GmbH & Co. Luftverkehrs KG and subsidiaries. It was suggested that the reason for the group to establish a UK-based PLC instead a German-based AG was to avoid the need to have a supervisory board and employee representation as required by the German law of Mitbestimmung or co-determination.
In 2006, Air Berlin went public on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. Originally scheduled for 5 May 2006, the IPO was postponed to 11 May 2006. The company said the delay was due to rises in fuel costs and other market pressures limiting investor demand. It reduced the initial share-price range from 15.0–17.5 euros to 11.5–14.5 euros. The stock opened at €12.0, selling a total of 42.5 million shares. Of these, 19.6 million were new shares increasing capital in the company, and the remainder to repay loans extended by the original shareholders and invested in the company earlier in 2006. After the IPO, the company claimed to have over 400 million euros in cash to fund further expansion, including aircraft purchases.
In August 2006, Air Berlin acquired German domestic airline dba. Flight operations at dba were continued as a fully owned subsidiary of Air Berlin until 14 November 2008, when the dba brand was discontinued due to staff strikes. (dba staff were subsequently offered positions with Air Berlin).
On 28 November 2006, Air Berlin ordered 60 Boeing 737-800 aircraft, and 15 smaller Boeing 737-700 aircraft. The combined value of the 75 aircraft was 5.1 billion dollars (Based on list prices at the time.) Delivery of the aircraft started in 2007. All of these aircraft were equipped with blended winglets, to significantly improve fuel efficiency.
2007-2012: Takeovers, expansion and new alliances
In March 2007, Air Berlin took over German leisure airline LTU, gaining access to the long-haul market and becoming the fourth largest airline group in Europe in terms of passenger traffic. This deal led to the introduction of Airbus A321 and Airbus A330 aircraft into Air Berlin's fleet. The merger of the LTU operations, aircraft and crew was completed on 1 May 2009, when the LTU brand was discontinued.
On 7 July 2007, Air Berlin announced an order for 25 Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner longhaul aircraft, with further options and purchase rights. Three additional aircraft of this type will be leased from ILFC.
On 21 August 2007, Air Berlin acquired a 49 percent shareholding in Swiss charter airline Belair, the remainder being owned by tour operator Hotelplan. Following the deal, Belair's longhaul business was shut down, and the fleet replaced by Airbus A320 family aircraft operating scheduled flights on behalf of Air Berlin as well as charter flights for Hotelplan.
On 20 September 2007, Air Berlin announced it intended to buy its direct competitor Condor in a deal that envisaged Condor's owner, Thomas Cook Group, taking a 30% stake in Air Berlin. A variety of considerations, including the rapidly increasing price of jet fuel, led to the abandonment of the deal in July 2008.
In January 2008 Air Berlin introduced a new logo and corporate design. The logo is a white oval shape on a red background (suggesting an aircraft window) where the letter “a” is a white circle and two white stylised wings. The text "Air Berlin" in the logo is now in lower case and written as one word. Sometimes the slogan “Your Airline” also features as part of the logo.
In June 2008, CEO Joachim Hunold offended Catalan language speakers, when he claimed in an article included in Air Berlin's inflight magazine that the government of the Balearic Islands was trying to impose the use of Catalan on Air Berlin flights from and to Majorca. He claimed that Air Berlin was an international airline and was not obliged to use Catalan. Hunold went on to criticise the language policy in Catalonia and the Balearic Islands, claiming that at the time many children could not speak any Spanish. The Balearic Islands' socialist President, Francesc Antich, explained that his government had simply sent a letter to encourage airlines operating in the Balearic Islands to include Catalan among the languages used for onboard announcements.
On 18 June of the same year, Air Berlin announced that it would reduce its long-haul services by 13 percent, as well as cut 10 percent of services in the domestic market in an effort to increase profitability.
In September 2008, Air Berlin confirmed merger talks with competitor TUIfly, but added it was speaking with all parties. Air Berlin had, until 2007, been flying many code-share TUI flights. At the end of March 2009, Air Berlin PLC and TUI Travel PLC signed a deal by which their German flight businesses were to operate long-term strategic alliance. Originally, each company was to take a 19.9% stake in the other and the German cartel authorities was petioned for approval. After the Bundeskartellamt expressed concerns, the cross ownership plan was not implemented. Instead, TUI Travel PLC purchased a 9.9% stake in Air Berlin PLC using a capital increase at a subsidiary to do so.
In January 2009 Air Berlin started cooperating with Hainan Airlines, China’s fourth-largest airline. The airlines jointly market flights between Berlin and Beijing. The code-share flights are sold on a reciprocal basis and operated under the relevant airline’s own flight number.
At the end of March 2009, a strategic partnership agreement with TUI Travel was signed, with Air Berlin and its direct competitor TUIfly purchasing 19.9 percent of the other's shares. Following the deal, Air Berlin took over all German domestic TUIfly routes, as well as those to Italy, Croatia and Austria. Also, all of Tuifly's Boeing 737-700 aircraft were added to Air Berlin's fleet. Further route changes will see TUIfly abandoning all scheduled flights and relying exclusively on the charter business.
Also in 2009, Air Berlin added Hartmut Mehdorn to the board of directors after his retirement at Deutsche Bahn.
|airberlin technik GmbH||100 %|
|Binoli Reiseplattform||49 %|
In April 2010 Air Berlin expanded its codeshare arrangements with Russia’s S7 Airlines. The strategic cooperation between Air Berlin and S7 Airlines had been in place since October 2008. New services include codeshare flights via Moscow to destinations such as Irkutsk, Perm and Rostov.
In July 2010, Air Berlin announced an increase in its shareholding in the Austrian airline Niki. Following the fulfilment of the required conditions, the agreements notarized on 17 February 2010 have been implemented. Air Berlin indirectly acquired 25.9% of the shares in Niki from Privatstiftung Lauda (private Lauda foundation) and in doing so increased its current shareholding in Niki from 24% to 49.9%. In connection with the increase of its shareholding, Air Berlin will grant the private Lauda foundation a 40.5 million-euro loan. The private foundation has the option to repay the loan in three years with cash or through the transfer of the remaining 50.1% of Niki's shares.
In July 2010, it was also announced that Air Berlin would be joining Oneworld, the global airline alliance. In preparation for joining the alliance, Air Berlin has been offering flights under codeshare agreements with American Airlines and Finnair, starting with the 2010/2011 winter schedule. Its cooperation with American Airlines means that Air Berlin passengers gain access to the important American market whilst it also offers codeshare flights with Finnair to Helsinki and within Europe.
Air Berlin founded Follow Me Entertainment GmbH in September 2010 as a joint venture with kick-media ag. This joint venture company markets image and sound media, books, games as well as events, concerts, tournaments and sponsoring.
The foundations were laid for the first maintenance hangar at Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER) on 21 March 2011. Air Berlin, which will use the hangar with Germania when the airport is opened, has doubled Air Berlin Technik's maintenance capacity at its Berlin site.
On 1 April 2011 Air Berlin completed integration of LTU which it took over in August 2007. There is now only one flight schedule and all Air Berlin Group technical services have been merged into a new company called airberlin technik GmbH. Also in April 2011 Air Berlin underlined the importance of its Düsseldorf hub by creating a new position of North-Rhine Westphalia Regional Director. It also added new routes, more frequent flights and additional long-haul flights from Düsseldorf.
On 15 June 2011, Air Berlin and British Airways reached a codeshare agreement covering some flights within Europe, starting from 5 July 2011. The agreement applies to flights to over 40 European destinations served by the two airlines.
CEO Joachim Hunold resigned from his position on 1 September 2011 and was succeeded by the former CEO of Deutsche Bahn AG, Hartmut Mehdorn, who led the company on an interim basis until January 2013. From January 2013 Wolfgang Prock-Schauer took over the position of CEO.
Air Berlin has cooperated with the Italian airline Meridiana Fly since September 2011, and offers flights from 30 October 2011 with Meridiana Fly from Italy to Germany.
In November 2011 a new brand was launched, called Air Berlin Turkey. This product was the result of cooperation between Air Berlin and Pegasus Airlines and was intended for the charter market between Germany and Turkey. Pegasus Airlines is the largest private airline company in Turkey and is 16.5% owned by ESAS Holding AS. involved in Air Berlin. The airline was absorbed into Pegasus Airlines on 31 March 2013.
In the 3rd Quarter of 2011, the turnover of the company amounted to 1.4 billion euro, an increase of 11%. However operating profit decreased by almost to 50%, around 97 million euro. As a result, a new bond to raise additional capital was issued. In November 2011, a marketing campaign was launched and further preparations to join the oneworld airline alliance were made.
In November 2011 Air Berlin took over the remaining 50.1% stake in NIKI in the repayment of a loan and is now the sole owner of the company. The brand name is to be retained, Niki Lauda was given a position on the board of Air Berlin.
Air Berlin announced on 19 December 2011 that the Arabian airline Etihad Airways increased its share of Air Berlin from 2.99% to 29.1%, for a sum of 73 million euros, immediately making Etihad the company's largest shareholder. The deal supplied more cash to Air Berlin, and provided Etihad access to Air Berlin's European network.
Air Berlin became a full member of the Oneworld Alliance on 20 March 2012, a move that was originally announced on 2 February 2012. Austrian airline NIKI, which is also part of the Air Berlin group, joined Oneworld as an affiliate member on the same day.
2012-2016: Restructuring amid continuing losses
Air Berlin has been flying seven times a week non-stop from Berlin to Abu Dhabi since January 2012. The new service is also the start of the codeshare agreement between Air Berlin and Etihad Airways. The cooperation of the frequent flyer programs topbonus and Ethiad Guest was announced in March 2012. In June 2012, the collaboration concluded with the bonus programs airberlin business points and Ethiad Airways Business Connect for SMBs.
On 20 March 2012, the announced entry into the airline alliance oneworld was officially completed. The extended international network offers over 800 destinations in 150 countries. At the same time, the airline introduced the Platinum status for its frequent flyer program topbonus.
In May 2012 Air Berlin presented its new fare structure "Your Fare" in an effort to offer individual rates for all target groups. Bookings are available for the rates "Just Fly", "Fly Classic" and "FlyFlex" for flights from 1 July 2012. On 11 May 2012 Air Berlin opened its triweekly non-stop flight from Berlin to Los Angeles in the summer schedule, a destination which until then had only been served from Düsseldorf. In March 2013, the Berlin-Chicago route started, feeding into American Airlines' hub at O'Hare International Airport.
On 18 December 2012 Air Berlin announced that topbonus, its frequent flyer program, would be sold to Etihad Airways; only a 30 percent minority share would be retained. Air Berlin also announced the expansion of the existing codeshare agreement with Etihad Airways on 20 December 2012. This includes flights via Abu Dhabi to Chengdu, Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo and Nagoya.
In January 2013, the first Airbus A330-200 was introduced with a new business class which enables a fully flat position for the first time. The long-haul fleet of Air Berlin had already been modified with a business class of high quality in 2012.
On 7 January 2013 Air Berlin appointed Austrian Wolfgang Prock-Schauer, former Chief Strategy and Planning Officer as the company's CEO, replacing Hartmut Mehdorn. Mehdorn had held the position on an interim basis since September 2011.
From 28 February 2013 Air Berlin flew nonstop to Madrid. As part of strategic expansion in Central Europe since March, Air Berlin flies from Berlin to Warsaw three times daily and has increased its number of flights from 23 March 2013 from Berlin to Kraków. With the addition of the only connection between Berlin and Chicago from 23 March 2013, Air Berlin uses the Chicago hub for connections within the United States. Air Berlin increased its frequencies to New York-JFK, Los Angeles and Miami, but at the same time cancelled the seasonal non-stop flights to Las Vegas, San Francisco and Vancouver.
On 24 September 2014, Air Berlin cancelled all 15 orders for their Boeing 787s as well as 18 remaining orders for Boeing 737-800s as part of their restructuring programme. It will retire all Q400 and it is assumed that an all Airbus fleet is planned.
In October 2014, the Luftfahrt-Bundesamt denied Air Berlin authorization to operate 34 routes as a codeshare with co-owner Etihad from the 2014/2015 winter schedule as they would contravene against the bilateral traffic rights between Germany and the UAE. Also in October 2014, Air Berlin announced that it was terminating flights to Palma de Mallorca from both Bremen Airport and Dortmund Airport, therefore withdrawing entirely from these two German airports.
In September 2015, Air Berlin phased out the last Boeing 737-700s owned by the company. The remaining aircraft of this type will operated on wetlease from TUIfly until 2019. All Boeing 737-800s are to be phased out by 2016 as Air Berlin plans to focus their short- and mid-haul fleet on the Airbus A320 family to cut costs.
In November 2015, Air Berlin announced it will shut down its hub operations at Palma de Mallorca Airport by ceasing all Spanish domestic routes by 3 April 2016. It currently serves seven routes within Spain from Palma which are connected to several routes from Germany. Some days earlier, the airline announced plans to expand its long-haul network with flights from Düsseldorf to Boston, Dallas/Fort Worth, San Francisco and Havanna by spring 2016. However, the planned route to Dallas/Fort Worth was cancelled a few weeks later due to low demand.
On 30 December 2015, the administrative court in Braunschweig ruled in favour of the German civil aviation authority (the Luftfahrt-Bundesamt) and against Air Berlin regarding some of their codeshare operations with Etihad Airways. The shared sale and advertising of 31 out of 83 routes which are marketed by both has been declared illegal and needs to be stopped by 15 January 2016 as it is not covered by the bilateral air traffic agreement between Germany and the UAE. Amongst the routes which are no longer allowed to use an Etihad codeshare is Air Berlin's service from Stuttgart to Abu Dhabi. The Luftfahrt-Bundesamt had only allowed these flights until a definite legal ruling was made.
In April 2016, Air Berlin announced a record loss of €446m for 2015. The airline's revenues in 2015 decreased to €4.08 billion. Amongst the reasons considered for Air Berlin's poor performance are crippling debt of over €800m, unclear and quick changing strategies for routes and advertising, several CEOs within the recent years, the more than five years delayed new hub Berlin Brandenburg Airport as well as failed negotiations to profit from fallen fuel prices and the overall harsh competition on the airline market.
Air Berlin PLC shares are publicly traded on Xetra and on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in the regulated market. Trading in the regulated unofficial market takes place at the exchanges in Berlin, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Munich and Stuttgart. Since December 2011, Etihad Airways has been the largest shareholder in Air Berlin. As of December 2015, major shareholders (over 5%) are:
|Etihad Airways PJSC||29.21%|
|ESAS Holding AS (owners of Pegasus Airlines)||12.02%|
The key trends for Air Berlin Group (including Niki) over recent years are shown below (as at year ending 31 December):
|Net Profits (€m)||40.1||21.0||−75.0||−9.5||−106.3||−420.4||6.8||−315.5||−376.7||−446.6|
|Number of employees||4,108||8,360||8,311||8,278||8,900||9,113||9,284||8,905||8,440||8,869|
|Number of passengers (m)||19.7||27.9||28.6||27.9||34.9||35.3||33.3||31.5||31.7||30.2|
|Passenger load factor (%)||75.3||77.3||78.4||77.5||76.8||84.5||83.6||84.9||83.5||84.2|
|Number of aircraft (at year end)||117||124||125||152||169||170||155||140||149||153|
Air Berlin has been running its own pilot training scheme since 2007 in a joint venture with the TFC Käufer flight school. Trainees complete their commercial pilot training to the latest industry standards over a period of around 24 months. The Air Berlin flight school was the first flight school in Germany to be awarded a training licence by the German Department of Aviation for the new Multi-Crew Pilot Licence concept in February 2009.
Airberlin technik, part of the airberlin group, is a certified EASA Part-145 maintenance organization with approximately 1200 employees providing services to both Air Berlin group aircraft and customers throughout Europe. airberlin technik is recognized and approved by various National Airworthiness Authorities such as USA FAA-145, Canadian CAA-145, Aruba EASA-145, Federal Aviation Authority of Russia, GCAA, United Arab Emirates.
As of December 2015, Air Berlin operates a semi-low-cost network with a focus on some European metropolitan routes and several holiday destinations in the Mediterranean region, the Canary Islands and North Africa as well as intercontinental flights to the United States, the Caribbean and the Middle East, with a total of 118 scheduled year-round and seasonal destinations in 36 countries.
Berlin Tegel Airport and Düsseldorf Airport serve as the Air Berlin hubs which offer long-haul flights and a network of European metropolitan and leisure destinations with further smaller focus operations at Hamburg Airport, Stuttgart Airport, Munich Airport and Zürich Airport which mainly provide services to leisure destinations and domestic connections. Besides Berlin and Düsseldorf, Munich Airport featured a few Air Berlin scheduled and seasonal charter long-haul services to the Caribbean as well, which however ceased by 30 April 2016.
|Airbus A320-200||50||—||—||180||180||6 equipped with sharklets|
|Airbus A321-200||20||3||—||210||210||7 equipped with sharklets|
|Airbus A330-200||14||2||19||271||290||To be converted to 290 seats|
|Boeing 737-700||5||—||—||144||144||operated by TUIfly until 2019|
|Boeing 737-800||16||—||—||186||186||to be retired by 2016|
|Bombardier Dash 8 Q400||17||3||—||76||76||operated by Luftfahrtgesellschaft Walter|
Over the years, Air Berlin has operated the following aircraft types:
||incorporated from LTU|
||operated by Air Berlin USA|
||operated by Air Berlin USA|
|operated by Air Berlin USA
operated by Germania
||transferred from Niki and subsequently returned, were operated by LGW|
At the beginning of 2012, Air Berlin started the renewal of its long-haul cabin, equipping both economy class and business class with new seats and a new in-flight entertainment system. Fully automatic seats that could tilt up to 170 degrees provided high comfort in the business class, in addition to an anti-thrombosis edition and an individually adjustable headrest, and more legroom, narrower seat back, the seat improves comfort in economy class. All seats have an 8.9-inch monitor that is easy to use per touch screen and offers a variety of movies, series, music, audio books and games. In January 2013 the airline again presented a new business class which replaced the one introduced a year earlier. Primarily, the new business class has single seats, thus offering travellers even more privacy. The new seats have a full-flat function, a massage function and feature a 15-inch monitor.
In contrast to pure European low-cost carriers, Air Berlin offers free (at the point of consumption) in-flight snacks and drinks, as well as newspapers and magazines. Full hot meals are complimentary on long-haul flights. On all Air Berlin routes with a flight time of 60 minutes or longer, gourmet meals are offered, which are, according to the airline, created by chefs at "Sansibar", a famous restaurant on the island of Sylt. The airline also offers in-flight entertainment, assigned seating and guaranteed flight connections.
Frequent flyer program
Air Berlin's frequent flyer program is called topbonus. Points, known as miles, can be collected on flights operated by Air Berlin, Niki, Oneworld Alliance airline partners, and selected other airlines. Accrued miles can be redeemed for award flights, or for an upgrade to business class. In addition to the entry-level "topbonus Card Classic" there are cards with Silver, Gold, and Platinum status, corresponding to Oneworld Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald statuses. A Service Card and a Credit Card, for which a charge is made, are also available.
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-  Financial Statements 2003-2005 - see page 10
-  German companies flee to the UK
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Media related to Air Berlin at Wikimedia Commons