Air Berlin is one of oneWorld’s “odd man out” airlines. They are officially part of oneWorld, but cooperate much more deeply with Etihad. They are part of Etihad’s family of airlines, given they own a large stake in Air Berlin. This investment has been very unprofitable, with the airline hemorrhaging money. Last year, Air Berlin sold most of its non-hub routes to Lufthansa and their subsidiaries. I had a chance to fly them a few years back, and found them to be a wonderful airline, with a solid product.
Even as part of oneWorld, Air Berlin doesn’t have a relationship with a North American carrier. American and Air Berlin ended their codeshare agreement, and have since only been acquaintances, nowhere near to being friends. This has not stopped Air Berlin’s desires to expand, and hopefully turn a profit. New Air Berlin Routes to Chicago and Toronto are in the works.
Why These Cities?
I am very curious as to why Air Berlin chose these cities. For most of its history, Air Berlin has been a hybrid carrier. They have parts legacy airline, LCC and leisure airline. Their unusual flights include Aruba, Ft. Myers and Cancun. If they were sticking to this model, they may have well picked Orlando or another leisure city. Instead they pick one of American’s largest hubs and the largest market in Canada.
I can only suspect that American and Air Berlin may be willing to rekindle their friendship and relaunch a codeshare agreement. This time, however, it may be much more limited at first. It could slowly expand, but I don’t bet my money on it. I have no idea why they would pick Toronto. Air Berlin does not have codeshares with any Canadian carrier. It’s mystifying how the airline is making these business decisions.
My logic to these to destinations is probably they see enough origin or destination demand in these cities that they can justify deploying their A330s.
Air Berlin is a quirky airline. They offer a superb business class soft product, although the hard product felt a bit dated. I was very disappointed when American cut off their codeshare with Air Berlin, and even sadder every earnings season when I hear their mounting losses. I don’t know how much time Air Berlin has. Air Berlin’s woes will be very difficult to surmount. I hope they don’t end up like Alitalia, about to go bankrupt. I truly hope these new routes breathe new life into the carrier. If not, hopefully IAG or another European carrier will purchase them and keep the brand alive.
What do you think? Do you have any idea why Air Berlin chose Chicago and Toronto as their new destinations? What do you think is going to happen to Air Berlin in the long run? Let us know!
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All Images from Wikipedia or the author’s.