In the days following their takeover of most of Air Berlin’s routes, Lufthansa has deployed their 747s on certain flights between Berlin and Frankfurt to help move passengers between hubs.
Initially, plans called for the 747s to stay on the route for certain flights until November 30. Due to load factors, LH has now extended this strategy to at least December 21, primarily to help manage increased passenger traffic during the Christmas season.
Keep in mind that not ever flight between Frankfurt and Berlin is operated by a 747. In fact, only 28 flights in total will fly between the 2 cities between December 1 and December 21. All other flights between the city pair will be operated by A321 aircraft.
Due to the demise of Air Berlin, and the fact that many Air Berlin loyalists are ‘stranded’ without their favorite carrier, LH Group has announced that it will continue to send widebody aircraft to Berlin in order to accommodate travelers wishing to travel to and from Berlin. This announcement follows on the heels of Lufthansa’s use of the 744 during certain flights between Frankfurt and Berlin during September.
Lufthansa in their press release feigned surprise at the fact that they’re seeing increased demand from Berlin, but with AB’s shutdown looming what was to be expected? With LH being able to buy a significant chunk of AB’s operations, aircraft, and staff this obviously did not really come as a surprise to anyone.
So with that in mind, here are the changes that are coming for the next few weeks:
From October 23 to October 25 SWISS, Austrian, and Lufthansa will schedule most, if not all flights to be operated by A321 aircraft in order to increase capacity from Berlin to Frankfurt, Munich, Zurich, and Vienna.
During this 2 day period, Lufthansa flights not being operated by the A321 will see the A346 operate the flight between October 23 and 25. For it’s part, SWISS will send their A333s to fly between Zurich and Berlin on October 24 and 25. Austrian will run their 767s between Vienna and Berlin on October 24.
Lufthansa yesterday closed on a transaction that allowed it to acquire 20 Air Berlin aircraft, Air Berlin’s ‘NIKI’ subsidiary as well as AB’s LG Walter operations. The deal amounted to $210 million Euro (approx. $250mm USD).
In return, Lufthansa agreed to protect all jobs that were affected specifically by this deal. In other words, LGW and NIKI employees do not need to fear for their jobs.
In his comments, LH Boss Carsten Spohr indicated that Lufthansa would infuse over $1 Billion Euro into the Air Berlin acquisitions which will cover updates and upgrades to the aircraft, as well as future aircraft acquisitions for LH’s LCC Eurowings, which is where all the Air Berlin assets will be assigned to going forward.
Several large parts of Air Berlin have yet to be sold. It appears that Easy Jet and Thomas Cook / Condor will also benefit from the liquidation of Air Berlin, though no specific deals have been announced. Ryanair has apparently been blocked out of any chance to benefit from the Air Berlin garage sale.
During this recent shopping spree, Spohr also suggested that Lufthansa would very much be interested in Alitalia. Though he firmly denied any interest in acquiring the struggling carrier in it’s current form (which is basically as bad as Air Berlin’s condition), he did suggest that Lufthansa would be very interested in helping the Italian gov’t create a ‘New’ Alitalia. I thinking ‘Lufthalia’??