Airberlin Sets Major Expansion of U.S. Gateways, Frequencies in 2013
By James Shillinglaw
November 29, 2012 10:03 PM
Airberlin, Germany’s second leading airline after Lufthansa, is taking on its bigger competitor in the U.S. market by expanding flight frequencies and adding U.S. gateway for 2013. At a press conference in New York City, the airline’s executives said they plan to launch a new nonstop service between Chicago and Berlin in March 2013. Airberlin also will add more frequent flights on its existing U.S. routes from New York JFK, Los Angeles and Miami staring in summer 2013.
All this comes from an airline that many Americans may not have heard of before, but one that was actually started in 1979 by an American pilot, Kim Lundgren, who founded the company known then as Air Berlin Inc. in Oregon as a charter carrier for German holiday travelers to Spain. Thirty-four years later, airberlin has grown from a charter airline with two aircraft to the second-largest airline in Germany and the sixth largest in Europe, with a global network of 170 destinations in 40 countries and a fleet of 158 aircraft. In addition, the airline said it views the U.S. as an important growth market that will play a decisive role in the realignment of its network strategy as of summer 2013.
“The partner relationship with the United States is traditionally important for airberlin,” said Hartmut Mehdorn, CEO of airberlin. “We are therefore delighted that our network will become more attractive for our American flight guests in the coming year. This will be achieved not only by the nonstop service from Chicago to Berlin, but also by improved connections between our two German hubs in Berlin and Dusseldorf and the U.S. hubs of our oneworld partner, American Airlines.”
Mehdorn said airberlin will expand its daily nonstop service between New York and Dusseldorf by three additional flights as of May 2013, operating two flights a day to Dusseldorf on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Since the inaugural flight in May 2011, airberlin’s service from New York to the German capital has also seen positive growth with more than 90 percent of seats sold. In the period from January to October 2012 alone, almost 120,000 flight guests used one of the airline’s daily non-stop services to and from New York.”
Paul Gregorowitsch, chief commercial officer of airberlin, said the airline not only offers an attractive route network, but also a maximum level of comfort and service for business and leisure travelers. “We are constantly improving our product, whether in terms of the design of the aircraft cabin, the in-flight refreshments or the entertainment provided,” he said. “Airberlin has undertaken numerous improvements this year, especially on board its A330-200 long-haul fleet, and has continued to improve its product and service standards. Our long-haul fleet now stands among the leaders on an international level with its award-winning Inflight Entertainment system and new seating in Business and Economy Class. The next upgrade of our Business Class cabins will start in December this year. Our guests will then be able to enjoy full-flat seats with an overall length of 73 inches and therefore have an even more comfortable flight.”
Over the past two years, airberlin has taken steps towards further growth in the U.S., including membership in the oneworld alliance as of March 2012 and increased exploitation of network synergies through the sustained expansion of codeshare agreements with American Airlines since November 2010 on a current total of 36 routes in North America and two trans-Atlantic routes (Dallas-Frankfurt and New York-Zurich). In return, American Airlines has put its code on seven of airberlin‘s trans-Atlantic routes and nine routes within Europe.
Airberlin’s network in the U.S. currently includes a total of five destinations (Chicago O’Hare International, Fort Myers, Los Angeles, Miami and New York JFK), with 44 non-stop flights a week to Germany. From both Berlin and Dusseldorf, airberlin flight guests have access to an extensive network of connecting flights to other destinations all over Europe. For example, it is possible to fly with airberlin from New York JFK via Berlin to 27 other destinations, including three cities in Poland alone (Gdansk, Krakow and Warsaw) and five destinations in the Nordics (Copenhagen, Gothenburg, Helsinki, Oslo and Stockholm). The new service from Chicago to Berlin, which will start as of March 23, 2013, will also offer connections to 19 destinations in Europe. In particular, airberlin will add Warsaw to its flight schedule at the same time as Chicago on March 23, 2013. Airberlin is also offers a global route network through its strategic partnership with Etihad Airways, which offers service to the Middle East, Asia, Australia and Africa.