All Change at airberlin

Airberlin has unveiled a bold restructuring plan intended to streamline its operation, increase profitability and deliver long-term growth.  The new strategy follows a comprehensive review of the German low-cost carrier, which is facing mounting pressure from rival operators such as easyJet, Ryanair, Wizz Air and Lufthansa’s new-look subsidiary Eurowings.

Key elements of the re-organisation include the consolidation of its two hubs at Berlin and Düsseldorf, shifting its tourist and leisure business into a separate division, refocusing its core network to “higher-yielding” markets and reducing its fleet by almost half.

Announcing the changes, airberlin CEO Stefan Pichler said: “This far-reaching restructuring of our operations is about a new focus, giving us a new future.

“Now more than ever, we are faced with significant external market pressures which dictate a change to our current complicated business model. We have sought to serve all market segments with one operating platform, covering both business and leisure travellers.

“The core airberlin proposition in future is now clear:  a dedicated focused network carrier serving higher-yielding markets from two hubs in Düsseldorf and Berlin.  A leaner, fitter, stronger airberlin has a bright future.”

Under the restructuring plan outlined in late September, the carrier will reduce its fleet to 75 aircraft – consisting of 17 Airbus A330s, 40 A320 Family aircraft and 18 Bombardier Dash 8-Q400s – by summer 2017.  This streamlining will be aided in part by an agreement to wet-lease up to 40 A320s to Lufthansa, 35 of which will join Eurowings with the remaining five destined for fellow subsidiary Austrian Airlines.

The changes will also see airberlin axe up to 1,200 positions by February through a combination of voluntary redundancies and redeployments elsewhere in the Etihad Airways Partners group, which includes Air Serbia, Air Seychelles, Alitalia, Etihad Airways, Etihad Regional and Jet Airways.

Pichler added: “Of course, we understand that redundancies are unwelcome, even in a dynamic market such as Germany.  We have to make reductions but we will aim to do so in a supportive manner, offering new opportunities to employees where possible.  We are implementing a size and structure for the business that is fit for purpose.  We will see revenues grow and costs contained as a result of this restructuring of our business.”

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