oneworld member air berlin filed for bankruptcy two weeks ago after Etihad withdrew its support. The German government extended a loan guarantee (subsidy) to keep the airline flying while a sale of assets was arranged. The airline has cumulatively lost several billion dollars.
The airline’s topbonus frequent flyer program has filed for bankruptcy as well. They’re no longer offering earning or redemption. They no longer had the possibility of being repaid debt owed by the airline, or collecting funds from airline mileage accrual.
Although European discount airlines have made noises about being interested in buying the full carrier, it’s not clear how real those entreaties are, and it’s expected that the carrier will be sold off in pieces — much to the chagrin of Lufthansa’s competitors who see unfair advantage being granted to the German flag carrier in the bidding, and to consumers in German markets who will see greater consolidation.
The German subsidy was meant to provide three months of runway for an orderly disposition of assets, though the carrier appears to be adjusting its flying already. There’s a recognition that few people are buying tickets even on services offered due to uncertainty which creates a vicious spiral of even greater losses, and a need to pull back on routes right away to conserve cash.
While no official announcement has been made German media appears to be reporting an end to long haul flying from Berlin in late September with only limited change as yet to Dusseldorf’s long haul network. (Quotes Via Google Translate)
The insolvent airline Air Berlin is removing all long-haul flights from Berlin!
Flights to Abu Dhabi, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco, as well as the connection Düsseldorf-Boston will only be carried out until 1 October.
First connections will be deleted as early as 18 September.
Although an official announcement of the cancellations is still missing, airberlin’s booking form will only show availability on the “Flex” tariff from 18 September to 1 October 2017 on all long-haul routes from Berlin.
This has always been a good indicator of a route deletion. With the connections from Düsseldorf as well as on transfer connections via Düsseldorf, all booking classes are still bookable. The only exception to this is the connection to Boston, which is also scheduled for September 18 and not as planned before the end of October.
The following airberlin routes will be deleted at the end of September:
- Berlin – Abu Dhabi (both daily connections, originally bookable continuously)
- Berlin – Chicago (originally bookable continuously)
- Berlin – Miami (should be resumed at the end of October)
- Berlin – New York (originally bookable continuously)
- Berlin – Los Angeles (originally until the end of October 2017)
- Berlin – San Francisco (originally until the end of October 2017)
- Düsseldorf – Boston (originally until the end of October 2017)
Just yesterday I suggested to someone that I would still make a bet on air berlin flights in September but not after that. My thinking was that it would take time to sort through an asset sale and the goal of the German government seems to be to protect airline jobs (this loan guarantee is an expensive way of doing that over a very short period of time).
Nonetheless I’m still surprised to see this possibly happening as quickly as it appears.
(HT: Frederik R.)
Update: Read down through the comments about JFK Berlin being bookable, and coverage in German of Lufthansa possibly taking over the route.