Air Berlin to grow hubs under new strategy says CEO

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Air Berlin is to focus on the expansion of its hubs at Berlin and Düsseldorf, launching a number of new services from each, as part of an enhanced network strategy.

The airline's new chief executive, Wolfgang Prock-Schauer, says it intends to grow the hubs by introducing new routes and increasing frequencies to destinations in Eastern Europe, Scandinavia and North America.

Air Berlin also plans to increase its collaboration with Etihad Airways and fellow Oneworld member airlines through codeshares.

During the summer schedule, the carrier's weekly connections from Berlin will increase to around 11,000 from around 7,600 in summer 2012. Connections from Düsseldorf will rise to around 4,050 from around 3,000 in 2012.

Air Berlin sees the USA as "a strategic growth market" and will introduce a new non-stop service between Berlin and Chicago this month and increase the frequency of services from Berlin to Miami in May. It will also raise the number of flights from Düsseldorf to New York JFK, Los Angeles and Miami and offer ongoing connections through Oneworld partner American Airlines from all its North American destinations.

However, an overall reduction in capacity will see Air Berlin make cuts or closures at its other operational bases in Germany. The airline says talks are continuing with staff over the proposals announced earlier in 2013, but could not provide any further details.

The Oneworld carrier has 15 stations across Germany where pilots and cabin attendants are based. But it says thse will be cut due to "network and base location optimisations".