Over the past 2 days, Lufthansa has been in formal talks with Air Berlin’s leadership regarding the sale of Air Berlin’s assets to LH. Though other bidders are expected to crop up including Ryanair, Thomas Cook and Easyjet, it appears that the battle for Air Berlin may be over before it even begins. While AB is publicly saying that it is possible that more than one suitor may be involved, it appears unlikely that a serious threat would be posed to LH’s chances at this point.
Already with an advantage thanks to the wet lease agreement currently in place for 40 AB aircraft, it looks as though Lufthansa will have little problem in taking over the lease on 90 of Air Berlin’s 140 aircraft, including the ones already under LH’s control.
Lufthansa is in solid win-win position at this point. Not only does it come through as a ‘Champion’ for keeping a German airline German, it will exponentially increase its Eurowings presence in Europe and the rest of world by immediately rebranding the AB birds into Eurowings and expanding their route network.
With German elections looming next month, it is also a fortunate public relations coup for the German gov’t by taking on an active role in bridging a €150 million loan to AB to remain solvent while the details of an LH take over are ironed out. Unlikely that the German gov’t at this point would support a sale of one of their flag carriers to Ireland’s Ryanair or an equally unattractive option in Easyjet, Thomas Cook, or others.
Earlier today, Air Berlin had done what most of us were expecting for some time when they filed for Bankruptcy protection. The filing came primarily as a result of Etihad’s withdrawing of any more funding to help keep the airline viable. Etihad had been a major stakeholder in ‘AB’ since January 2012.
The bankruptcy leaves Air Berlin in shambles as it is now left to scramble to either reorganize, sell off units, or simply cease operations. As it stands now, the German government has stepped in with a €150 million bailout that will keep Air Berlin operational for 3 months. During this time, ‘AB’ will be able to run as normal a schedule as possible, and ensure the employment of its 7,300 workers. This is especially important since we are in the midst of holiday travel season in Europe.
During this period, Lufthansa will continue business as usual as it relates to the 38 aircraft that it sublet from Air Berlin earlier this year in an effort designed to help AB regroup their operation.
Over the next weeks and months, suitors will emerge hoping to take over important gate space at airports where Air Berlin operates. Of course, with Berlin and Dusseldorf being the main hubs for AB, I suspected a heated bidding war to arise between the likes of Easyjet and Ryanair as they hope to make further inroads against Lufthansa on LH’s home turf.
Ryanair is already whining about LH having an unfair advantage due to all this happening in Germany, but Ryanair whines because it is what it does best when it doesn’t get its way.
Lufthansa has stated that it expects to compete successfully for the Air Berlin business due to its ‘home field’ advantage and its existing relationship with Air Berlin. In fact, LH is already in talks with German and Air Berlin officials to craft a way forward that minimizes the impact of a complete shut down of Air Berlin.
Call it luck or brilliance, but Lufthansa appears to have played Air Berlin perfectly. LH did not spend much time, money, or manpower to take on Air Berlin directly with their Eurowings unit. Instead they saw the writing on the wall several months ago and waited patiently for their opportunity to arise. Along the way, they offered help to support their fellow ‘countryman’, knowing full well that AB did not have a chance at survival and that Etihad would pull it’s life line from Air Berlin. Now in the end, Eurowings is most likely to be the biggest benefactor and should see an exponential increase in size and presence in Europe’s Low Cost Carrier market. Much to the chagrin of RyanAir, Easyjet, and others.
Lufthansa once again is knocking down premium fares for travel to the USA. This time it is a fantastic deal that features LH, SWISS, Brussels, and Austrian Business Class fares to the USA for $1700.
The catch is that travel needs to originate in Warsaw, Budapest, or Prague but if you can pull that off, you’ll get a great deal!
Example fares include New York, Chicago, Washington DC and other East Coast destinations that can be reached for about $1700. West Coast destinations have largely been left out of the deal, however Seattle can be reached for only $2400 and LAX for about $2900, but those fares are available only on a few select Saturdays (per Google.com/filights).
The fare appears to cover travel all the way into September 2018, so there is plenty of opportunity to lock in travel dates. Just make sure you do it by tomorrow! 🙂
A six night stay is required to trigger these fares. The fares are also available on Star Alliance partners SAS, Air Canada, and United.
Lufthansa and SWISS are currently offering a fantastic fare for travel from Paris to California in Business Class. In looking over valid travel dates, it appears that the fares are available into early next year. However, it looks like the fares are valid for travel on Monday / Tuesday / Wednesday. Going into 2018, the fare seems to only work for Monday travel. Regardless, you can book a roundtrip ticket for only $1993.
Since this is not an advertised sale, I don’t know how long the fare will last, or if in fact it is an error fare which can be removed at any time.
As with any fare published by Lufthansa, the same pricing would apply to flights operated by other Star Alliance carriers that flight the same route.
What has normally been ‘verboten’ has become a reality, at least for the time being.
Lufthansa is offering paid access to ‘SOME’ of the First Class Lounges if you meet certain criteria. This criteria requires that you be a Miles & More ‘Senator’ and be booked on a intercontinental flight in Business or Premium Economy Class.
However, before you get excited about walking into the hallowed grounds of the First Class Terminal in Frankfurt, and all the joys that one derives from being treated like an uber VIP, not every lounge is part of this promotion.
Qualifying passengers can access the First Class Lounge in Concourse ‘B’ in Frankfurt, or the First Class Lounge in Munich. The First Class Terminal, and the lounge in Concourse ‘A’ in Frankfurt are not accessible with this promotion.
Restrictions not withstanding, it’s still a great opportunity to experience Lufthansa’s First Class services on ground when normally you would not be eligible to do so.
The promotion is in place until October 29, 2017 and pricing is as follows:
Senator flying in Premium Economy Class: €299, plus €199 per guest (including children)
Senator flying Business Class: €249, plus €149 per guest (including children).
You’ll need to show your boarding pass when you arrive at the lounge, and pay the Lounge receptionist upon entry.
Ducks are included with your purchase! 🙂