Accumulated losses incurred by Air Berlin, 191 million euros up to September this year, which are 26.5% more than in 2014, have forced its president, Stefan Pichler, to take the decision to drop the whole hub operation (i.e. its flight connections' centre) that the airline has in Palma.
The decision has also been driven by the fact that German competitors - Germania, TUI Fly, Condor, Lufthansa and Germanwings - have been flying direct to mainland airports, while Air Berlin has been stopping in Palma before then flying onto Spain and Portugal.
The president of the Balearic association of travel agencies, Antoni Abrines, explains that this has resulted in a sharp drop in passenger numbers, which had led Air Berlin to already cut some flights from Palma to the mainland, such as Madrid and Santiago. Now, however, the decision has been made to axe all domestic routes in order to improve the airline's financial situation. This will result, says Abrines, "in our losing connections in Majorca, Minorca and Ibiza".
The loss of Air Berlin will mean that domestic flights from Palma will be left in the hands of Air Europa, Vueling and Iberia Express. The airline has announced, though, that flights to Palma from Germany, Austria and Switzerland next summer will increase by 10%, while certain domestic flights will continue until April, e.g. to Bilbao.
The announcement of the closure of the hub was made internally a few days ago, while it is understood that workers at the Son Castello offices were told in September that these would close in December. The future for the 150 or so employees that Air Berlin has in Palma does not look good, though some may have the opportunity of moving to its operations centre in Berlin.
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