Airberlin’s days are very much numbered. The airline filed for insolvency over a month ago, and has a temporary loan from the German government as airberlin’s creditors go through the process of selling off their assets. We know what companies are interested in buying airberlin’s limited assets. The airline leases most of their planes, so the only real value is some of their slots and terminal assignments, as well as the ease with which another airline can ramp up operations by taking over parts of airberlin (though hopefully with a better business model).
We’ve learned that airberlin will be discontinuing many of their longhaul flights as of September 25, 2017. This isn’t because they think they’ll run out of money as of that date, but rather because the company from which they’re leasing their A330s is taking them back as of that date, as they’re (understandably) scared they won’t be paid for them any longer.
This compromises most of airberlin’s A330 fleet, and as you might expect, it’s tough to operate longhaul flights without planes able to operate the routes. What’s especially interesting here is what will be happening with these planes.
German media is reporting that Lufthansa’s low cost Eurowings division will be leasing 10 A330s from AerCap as of November 2017, and will be launching flights to the Caribbean using those planes. According to the story, Eurowings will use these A330s to fly from Dusseldorf to Varadero, Punta Cana, Cancun, and Puerto Plata.
This is brilliant. We’ve known that Lufthansa has offered a sum in the hundreds of millions of Euros to take over parts of airberlin, including up to 90 planes. What they’re really paying for is the privilege of taking over the leases on planes, gates, existing agreements, etc. Perhaps to a greater extent, they’re paying in order to keep these routes and planes away from their competitors (this is especially true for shorthaul flying, as EasyJet is keen to expand in Germany). However, if Lufthansa can get their hands on airberlin’s former planes and launch routes without much trouble, why would they pay airberlin extra for the privilege of facilitating it?
I’ll be curious to see if Lufthansa at all revises their offer in light of this.
Well played, Lufthansa.