It was already reported back in July (read more here) that Lufthansa was in negotiations with Airberlin/Etihad to take over 40 airplanes with crews on routes that don’t touch Berlin or Duesseldorf.
This issue resurfaced this weekend when German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung further reported about the recent developments and that was picked up by Reuters.
You can access the Sueddeutsche Zeitung piece here.
Here are some key points from their article:
– Lufthansa plans to wet lease 40 Airberlin planes with crews and would prefer to start this at the beginning of their winter schedule in late October.
– This would trim Airberlin by about a third leaving it with fewer than 100 planes.
– Wet lease arrangements would pay Airberlin a set amount for the flights. Commercial risk would be Lufthansa’s.
– Lufthansa would prefer Airberlin not going under; that would open up opportunities for Ryanair and Easyjet to expand into the German market.
– The magazine states that Etihad would have injected more than a billion to Airberlin and would rather see it dropping the various holiday routes it has.
– Lufthansa and Etihad would perhaps cooperate and codeshare flights.
We are certainly living in interesting times. Etihad has invested so much into the Airberlin venture that they certainly wouldn’t like to see it collapsing; that would also allow other airlines to expand in Germany that would in turn harm Lufthansa.
Lufthansa has been vocal opponent of the Middle Eastern airlines that have expanded in Europe. This deal would likely see Lufthansa and Etihad codesharing and cooperating with each other. That would be quite a change. Maybe they are starting to live with the fact that the Big 3 Gulf carriers (EK, EY & QR) are not going anywhere.
I probably should find a way to burn the 70K+ or so Airberlin Topbonus miles that I have had sitting in my account already for a while.