Air Berlin once dominated Palma airport. Not now.

12-11-2008Archive

Air Berlin, once such a major player at Palma's Son Sant Joan airport, will operate only two routes with German cities - Düsseldorf and Berlin - from the end of October. Its other Mediterranean routes will, from 30 October, be operated by the Lufthansa low-cost subsidiary, Eurowings, which will be establishing a base at Son Sant Joan next year.

Lufthansa is also due to sign an agreement this month which will give it fifty of the Air Berlin Airbus fleet. This will be in the form of a "wet lease", a leasing arrangement whereby a lessor airline provides aircrafts and crew to a lessee airline. The owner of the planes will be a signatory to this agreement.  

Etihad, which is Air Berlin's largest shareholder, seems to no longer be willing to pump money into the airline in order to cover its losses. Lufthansa and the German government are working to try and ensure that Air Berlin doesn't go under and that its slots are not acquired by low-cost rivals such as Ryanair. Etihad, meantime, wants to concentrate on long-distance flights from the Düsseldorf and Berlin hubs that Air Berlin is maintaining.

This latest development follows the closure of the Air Berlin hub in Palma and the axing of routes to the mainland. The German airline's financial difficulties were being compounded by competition that was flying direct to mainland airports from Germany, thus making the connections through Palma less viable.

Air Berlin has been offering sixteen routes between Palma and German airports plus Mulhouse in France and Zurich this summer. This, though, represents a marked decrease from a time five years ago when it was flying to 82 destinations.

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