According to the Air Berlin website the carrier has now confirmed that it will cease operation of all long haul flights effective 15th of October 2017, however many destination shut down much earlier than that.
When I wrote about a rumor of this being in the making a few weeks ago (see here) nobody could put a finger on it yet when Air Berlin would finally pull the plug but now the matter has accelerated as the leasing companies began to ask for their planes back.
Air Berlin’s latest announcement can be found right on their website (access here).
airberlin will need to cease its long-haul flight operations by 15 October 2017, as the aircraft leasing companies are gradually withdrawing their Airbus A330 jets. The connection between Dusseldorf and Los Angeles will therefore be discontinued on 25 September 2017. Further cancellations will follow on 16 October 2017. On 29 September 2017, airberlin will discontinue services between Hamburg and Munich and between Cologne/Bonn and Munich. We regret the inconvenience for our passengers.
Status: 25. September 2017
So here we have it. Duesseldorf – Los Angeles is gone effective today (September 25th) with more to come as Air Berlin also thins out their domestic network cutting flights to/from Munich.
No doubt that ‘further cancellations will follow on 16 October 2017’ pretty much means the end of Air Berlin’s operations as we know it.
And then of course there is the matter of the passengers affected by this whole mess.
All airberlin passengers will be informed of the status of their booking. This will be in the form of either a cancellation confirmation or a rebooking confirmation. Passengers for the affected flights will be rebooked on alternative flights wherever possible. Whether or not your flight can be rebooked will depend on the availability of alternatives.
For passengers who booked their plane ticket directly with airberlin, the following applies: for tickets purchased after the insolvency filing on 15 August 2017, we will reimburse the purchase price free of charge. Passengers affected may submit any additional costs incurred via the website www.airberlin.com/complaint. Tickets that were booked before the insolvency filing cannot currently be reimbursed due to insolvency regulations.
While newly purchased tickets will receive rebooking and accommodation to other carriers, old tickets are left in the cold and passengers have to fight for themselves as long as they booked a standalone flight with Air Berlin (on Air Berlin ticket stock).
The bids for Air Berlin as a company were received and are now being evaluated. It’s widely expected that Lufthansa will receive the most lucrative parts of the airline. Meanwhile pilots have called in ‘sick’ as an inofficial strike against working conditions. I’m surprised the leasing company would withdraw the aircraft now pretty much bringing Air Berlin’s operations to a sudden halt. Aren’t they getting paid at all anymore or is this a secret handshake deal behind the scenes with Lufthansa to bring this charade to a quick end?
There has been some discussion if people are able to successfully claim their money back as a charge back from a credit card company and while some report they were unsuccessful with this, others reported a positive result. You might just as well go for it if you’re affected by an Air Berlin cancellation on old tickets. What do you have to lose?