airberlin and the newly established Minsheng Commercial Aviation Limited signed (15-Aug-2013) a package deal for 11 aircraft - covering used and new narrowbody aircraft - all equipped with CFM engines. This transaction consists of two parts: Sale-and-lease-back of five used A320 family aircraft owned by airberlin and two new deliveries in 2014 of one new A320 family aircraft with sharklets and one new 737-800 aircraft. In addition, Minsheng will have an option to buy four 737s from airberlin and place them into the Chinese market. The execution of the transactions will be completed in 2013 and 2014 respectively. Minsheng Commercial Aviation Limited CEO Johnny Lau said: “As Minsheng Leasing is moving into the commercial aviation market, we are very grateful to support airberlin aircraft financing programme. With airberlin as our first international customer, MSCA will continue to add other reputable airlines into our client list.” airberlin CFO Ulf Hüttmeyer commented: “We are pleased to announce this important transaction for airberlin which is further enhancing airberlin’s financing portfolio by expanding our footprint within the Chinese financial market. This transaction supports the management of our net debt position and our fleet alignment activities also in relation to our turnaround programme Turbine. We are looking forward to a trustful and long lasting relationship between the two companies.” [more - original PR] [more - original PR - German]
airberlin and Minsheng Commercial Aviation Limited sign LoI for 11 aircraft
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The main elements of Air Berlin Group's latest restructuring are taking shape. In Feb-2017, 38 of its aircraft began a wet lease agreement to operate on behalf of the Lufthansa Group. On 26-Mar-2017, the majority of airberlin's tourist routes were reassigned to NIKI, prior to the transfer of its Austrian subsidiary to a new airline that will also include TUIfly and be part owned by Etihad. This leaves the core "new" airberlin airline to focus on developing its network operation from its hubs in Duesseldorf and Berlin.
Data from OAG for the summer 2017 schedule show that airberlin's total seat numbers will be reduced by 31% versus last summer, focusing on Europe, mainly due to these actions. On long haul, however, airberlin's US seat capacity will grow by 57% this summer, with four new routes. On routes to Latin America, airberlin's growth of recent years has been halted by a more intense competitive landscape. Lufthansa's low cost subsidiary Eurowings has grown rapidly to destinations served by airberlin in Latin America.
Eurowings is also now turning its attention to the US. They operate from different German airports, but Eurowings could become a growing thorn in airberlin's side.
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When Lufthansa began to transfer point-to-point short haul routes to its LCC Germanwings in 2013 it specifically excluded routes to/from its two main hubs at Munich and Frankfurt. Although its two main hubs have been less penetrated by LCCs than many other major European airports, this is changing. Moreover, competitor LCCs are growing rapidly across Germany and in other Lufthansa Group home markets. Even Air France-KLM established a Munich base for its LCC Transavia in summer 2016 (but this is under review). More ominously, Ryanair is to enter Frankfurt in summer 2017.
Lufthansa first revealed in summer 2016 that it was considering opening a Munich base for its LCC operations, now grouped under the Eurowings brand. On 21-Dec-2016 it announced plans to base four A320 family aircraft at Munich for 32 Eurowings routes from summer 2017.
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