Airlines One year without Air Berlin

  • Cobalt Air

Air Berlin has entered insolvency procedures on August 15, 2017. One year later, it is time to take a look at the German airline market.

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One year ago, the German aviation market got shocked by the news that the second largest airline Air Berlin is entering insolvency procedures. Several days earlier, Etihad, which owned a 29% share in Air Berlin stopped the financial support for the German carrier.

Since then, several companies have acquired parts of Air Berlin and the gap has mostly been closed.

One of the largest profiteers of the Air Berlin insolvency is Lufthansa. The carrier acquired the former Air Berlin regional airline subsidiary Luftfahrt Gesellschaft Walter (price around 18 million euros) and integrated the entire fleet of 20 Bombardier Dash 8 Q 400 into its low cost subsidiary Eurowings. Additionally, all former Air Berlin Airbus A319 and a large number of A320 were transferred to Lufthansa and its subsidiaries Austrian Airlines and Eurowings. Lufthansa Group added over 80 A320 Family aircraft to its fleet since last year. Eurowings took over several routes and expanded its existing base at the former Air Berlin hub Düsseldorf Airport. In the next months, Eurowings will transfer all long-haul operations from its current hub Cologne-Bonn to Düsseldorf. After Air Berlin ceased operations, Lufthansa became a monopolist on several domestic routes in Germany. 

The British low cost carrier Easyjet has taken over several A320 aircraft, slots and leasing contracts. After Air Berlin has ceased operations, Easyjet announced to open a new Berlin base at the former Air Berlin hub Berlin Tegel Airport. The airport is the second Easyjet hub beside Berlin Schönefeld. As Easyjet commenced domestic operations with flights from Berlin-Tegel to Munich, Cologne-Bonn, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt/Main and Stuttgart, the low cost carrier is the only Lufthansa competitor on these routes.

The most spectacular take-over during the Air Berlin insolvency was the sale of the Austrian subsidiary Niki. After the EU commission denied a take-over by Lufthansa due to competitive concerns, the IAG Group bought Niki to integrate it into its low cost carrier Vueling. In a second decision, the former Formula One race driver and airline manager Niki Lauda acquired Niki for approximately 46 million euros. In March 2018, Ryanair announced to acquire 24,9% in Laudamotion and to rise its share to 75%.

Other parts of Air Berlin, like Air Berlin Technik and the Swiss subsidiary Belair were sold to smaller companies. The loyalty program Topbonus was shut down in 2018.


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