Air Berlin cuts fleet and suspends routes to combat fuel cost

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German carrier Air Berlin is to reduce the number of aircraft in its fleet by 10% by the end of this year and will suspend its newly-launched services to China for the winter, in order to reduce costs.

Air Berlin is to remove four Airbus A330-300s from long-haul routes and redeploy three of them on medium-haul services, primarily from Nuremberg. The fourth will be used as a backup aircraft, as well as specific shuttle flights to transport cruise passengers.

Another 14 short- and medium-haul aircraft – mainly older types with high fuel consumption – will be taken out of service completely. These changes will reduce the size of Air Berlin’s fleet from 134 to 120 aircraft by the end of this year.

Failure to reach a settlement on Russian overflight payments, and reluctance to increase fuel burn by using an alternative route, have prompted Air Berlin to suspend its new links to Beijing and Shanghai from the winter season.

“If we were required to fly via the longer southern route it would no longer be competitive,” says Air Berlin chief Joachim Hunold. The carrier, which only opened the Chinese connections last month, is yet to decide whether to restore the flights in summer next year.

Air Berlin is also to stop its Dusseldorf-New York flights over the winter, suspend connections to Mauritius and Sri Lanka, and reduce frequency to Cape Town, Windhoek and Bangkok.

But Hunold says that while capacity will be reduced by 10%, and by up to 30% on long-haul services, the number of passengers carried will not necessarily fall. The airline plans to raise frequencies to popular destinations, such as Miami, Cancun, the Maldives and Montego Bay.

As part of the cost-reduction effort Air Berlin is to dismantle the administrative division of Munich-based low-fare carrier DBA, which it acquired two years ago and which comprises 52 employees.


Source: flightglobal.com's sister premium news site Air Transport Intelligence news