Thursday, 22 March 2012

Airberlin Joins Oneworld Airline Alliance

Airberlin, the 2nd largest carrier of Germany, 6th largest carrier in Europe has officially joined oneworld alliance on 20 March 2012. Austrian airline, NIKI, a subsidiary of airberlin will join the alliance as a member affiliates. While airberlin group’s Swiss airline, Belair will be part of the alliance as a non-member affiliates.

airberlin’s Airbus 330-223 with the oneworld livery lands at Berlin-Schonefeld Airport(SXF) on March 20, 2012.

Oneworld alliance welcome it’s 13th member (including Malev Hungarian and Mexicana, which now officially classified as an inactive member) and 11th active member to the alliance. Airberlin’s addition will certainly make Germany a home market for the alliance, stepping up competition for some 200 million passengers a year flying to, from and within Europe’s biggest economy. Last year, airberlin served 162 destinations in 40 countries, carrying over 35 million passengers. Apart from airberlin, oneworld alliance will welcome Malaysia Airlines that is well poised to become a full member of the oneworld alliance by end of this year. (Kingfisher Airlines integration to the alliance has been stopped)

Airberlin certainly has makes a good choice in selecting oneworld over Star and Skyteam. It is impossible for airberlin to join Star which is headed by airberlin’s domestic rival-Lufthansa. While Skyteam has a very strong pressence in central Europe, with Air France, KLM and Alitalia. The joining of airberlin will give oneworld presence in every part of the Europe. Finnair in the northern part, British Airways in the western part, Iberia in the southern part and now airberlin in the central part. In the early stages, airberlin is likely not to bring much impact to the alliance. The airline’s largest hub at Berlin-Tegel (the airline will move to Berlin Brandenburg on 3 June 2012) is only currently served by 3 member airlines that is British Airways, Finnair and Iberia. Most oneworld carriers served Germany’s financial capital-Frankfurt. Airberlin will add 38 more new destinations to oneworld’s network and introduce the countries of Iraq and Iceland to the alliance. With the introduction of airberlin to oneworld, it gives oneworld passengers another option to connect in Central Europe, rather than connecting through British Airways’s London or Iberia’s Madrid. The airline has recently increased capacity in Eastern Europe, so it is able to cover the lost of Malev Hungarian Airlines that was forced to stop their operations this February. Overall, the entrance of airberlin into oneworld gives the alliance a chance to challenge the dominance of Star Alliance in Germany with Lufthansa.

airberlin’s aircraft with the oneworld livery taking off from Munich Airport(MUC) as flight AB111P to Berlin Schonefeld(SXF) for the presentation. Check out on updates for the new airberlin aircraft carrying the oneworld logo.

Currently, oneworld has 11th airline member operating, with Malaysia Airlines expected to join the alliance at the end of the year. Star Alliance, the largest airline alliance which has 26 members, has recently added Ethiopian Airlines into their alliance and will soon announce the joining of Taiwan’s EVA Airways. While Avianca of Columbia, Copa Airlines of Panama, TACA Airlines of El Salvador and Shenzhen Airlines of China are all expected to join Star this year. Skyteam, the 2nd largest airline alliance currently has 15 members. Aerolineas Argentina, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Middle East Airlines and Xiamen Airlines of China are all expected to join the alliance this year, while Indonesia’s Garuda Indonesia are expected to join next year.

But in the future, Star Alliance may lose three members, all to rivals oneworld. BMI is likely to be took over by British Airways/Iberia parent company International Airlines Group(IAG); TAP Portugal which is going to be privatized by the Portuguese government is likely to be acquired by IAG too. While TAM Airlines of Brazil is likely to switch from Star to oneworld in favor of the recent-formed LATAM Group.

The Editor

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