Emirates and NIKI, in which airberlin has a 49.9% stake, are reportedly in talks for a cooperation agreement, according to NIKI CEO Otmar Lenz (Austrian Press Agency/Gulf News, 21-Jan-2011). An agreement would provide Emirates with a regional partner to handle passengers arriving in Vienna from Dubai. The agreement, which would not be a codeshare, would reportedly commence in summer 2011.
Emirates and NIKI to cooperate: reports
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airberlin continues to shrink. Etihad remains supportive, but internal solution is needed
airberlin's 2015 losses highlighted its ongoing struggle to find a successful model. In 2012 airberlin received investment from Etihad (also entering into a close commercial partnership with it) and joined oneworld. These moves have brought it benefits in terms of traffic and revenue, but traffic and revenue continue to shrink and airberlin has remained loss-making.
Since 2011 airberlin has cut capacity heavily on the short/medium haul network (particularly in domestic markets). Short/medium haul still dominates airberlin's operation, but it is now growing its long haul network aggressively by adding capacity to North America and the Caribbean. Squeezed between lower-cost LCC competition on short/medium haul routes on the one hand, and legacy airlines with bigger long haul networks on the other, it is also now facing low cost long haul competition from Lufthansa's Eurowings.
On 31-May-2016 the Etihad Aviation Group CEO, James Hogan, said: “airberlin has faced greater challenges and has taken longer than we expected to reach sustainable profitability, but the underlying fundamentals of the business are trending in the right direction." Etihad's investment has been critical to airberlin's survival and the airline has, so far, remained committed to the relationship. However, there is only so much that Etihad can do from the outside. airberlin needs internal solutions.
Airberlin: airline's latest, more radical, restructuring gets help from TUIFly and Lufthansa
Airberlin's operations are to be split into three. First, there will be a core network airline with hubs in Berlin and Duesseldorf, deploying approximately half the current Air Berlin Group fleet. Second, there are plans for a new leisure airline, combining part of airberlin's fleet with TUIFly. Third, a significant part of airberlin's fleet will be wet-leased to the Lufthansa Group.
As a result of these moves the operating fleet of the core airberlin network airline will slip from second to third in Germany and risks becoming subscale. Eurowings will rise from third to second, and the expanded new TUIFly will go from fifth to fourth (overtaking Thomas Cook Group's Condor).
For several years airberlin has been unable to break the cycle of losses and successive restructuring initiatives, in spite of repeated bailouts from airberlin's 29% shareholder Etihad. A number of details are still to be clarified. These include the detailed route networks for the different operators, the network airline's strategy for feed, and the balance of charter versus scheduled flights in the new leisure airline. However, for now and with help from competitors and Etihad, airberlin looks to have ensured at least some kind of future.