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Fleet To Be Reduced In The Winter


Air Berlin launches efficiency program

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eTN  Jun 18, 2008

BERLIN - In order to absorb part of the increased kerosene cost, Air Berlin PLC has designed a cost-reduction package to be implemented at the start of the winter flight schedule. The program comprises capacity reductions, as well as organizational measures. Instead of having 134 airplanes in service, as originally planned, only 120 are to remain in service at the end of the year. Nevertheless, as CEO Joachim Hunold stated in Berlin on Wednesday, the fact that Air Berlin aims to increase its fleet capacity utilization does not necessarily entail a reduction in the anticipated number of passengers transported.

With the beginning of the winter flight schedule, Air Berlin aims to remove 14 short- and medium-distance planes from service, in particular older models that have an especially high fuel consumption per seat kilometer. Of the long-distance planes, four wide-body jet airliners of the type Airbus A330 will be removed from service. Three of these 330-300s will be put into service on medium-distance flights, mainly departing from the Nuremberg hub. The fourth Airbus A330 will serve as a stand-in for scheduled maintenance intervals and will also be used for shuttling passengers to cruise departure ports all over the world.

The flight connections to Beijing and Shanghai, which were inaugurated on May 1, 2008, will be suspended over the winter of 2008 and 2009. The main reason is the as yet unresolved issue of overflight rights over Russia. "If we were required to fly via the longer southern route, it would no longer be competitive, seeing the current price of kerosene," commented Air Berlin's CEO Joachim Hunold. He also pointed out that the more stringent visa regulations implemented by China in the run up to the Olympic Games did not exactly make travel to China more appealing. A potential reinstatement of these flight connections by the summer of 2009 will be decided, if and when new circumstances warrant it.

The flight connections from DĂĽsseldorf to New York will be suspended over the winter. Moreover, the number of flights to Cape Town, Windhoek and Bangkok will be reduced during the winter season. Flights to Mauritius and Sri Lanka will also be suspended.

Conversely, flight frequencies to destinations that are particularly high in demand will be increased. These destinations include Florida (Miami and Fort Myers), Cancun (Mexico), Male (the Maldives) and Montego Bay (Jamaica). Flights to the Azores are the latest addition to their flight program. As of Monday, the entire winter flight schedule will be available for booking. In total, fleet capacity utilization will be reduced by ten percent; on long-distance flights, even by 30 percent. According to Joachim Hunold, business flights are more likely to be increased.

At the end of October 2008, the Munich-based administrative seat of dba Luftfahrtgesellschaft will be dissolved. For the remaining 52 employees, a social compensation plan has been agreed on, in consultation with the staff association. In the future, the administration of dba will be based in Berlin. dba was taken over by Air Berlin in August 2006. The technical staff of the Munich-based company was already taken over by Air Berlin Luftfahrttechnik Berlin GmbH on January 1, 2008. "The organizational restructuring contributes significantly to lowering cost and maintaining competitiveness," commented Joachim Hunold.

Air Berlin launches efficiency program
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