Financially troubled Airberlin went bankrupt last month after one of its biggest investors – Abu Dhabi-based Etihad – decided to stop pumping funds into the money-losing airline. And now the carrier is living on borrowed time – and money – as it starts to wind down its operations.
Among the schedule changes: Airberlin has moved up the seasonal cessation of service on some U.S. routes by about a month. It is now due to stop flying to Berlin Tegel on October 1 from San Francisco and October 3 from Los Angeles, and will halt Chicago-Berlin flights September 30 and Miami-Berlin November 2. An October 1 termination is also set for the airline’s Boston-Dusseldorf service.
The airline currently plans to keep flying this winter to Berlin from New York JFK, and to Dusseldorf from JFK, Chicago, Los Angeles, Orlando and San Francisco, according to Routesonline.com, although those plans could change.
This is especially tough on SFO because it offered the airport’s only nonstop to Berlin. We’ve reached out to Lufthansa to see if it would be taking that slot, but have not heard back.
The European Commission this week approved the German government’s proposal to extend a $179 million bridge loan to the troubled airline. “The measure will allow for the orderly wind-down of the insolvent airline Airberlin without unduly distorting competition in the single market,” the EC said in a statement.
“The purpose of the loan is to allow Air Berlin to continue operations in the coming months, with the aim of maintaining its services while it concludes ongoing negotiations to sell its assets,” the EC statement added. “At the end of the process, Airberlin is expected to cease operating and exit the market.”
Airberlin is looking for investors interested in buying its assets, and has set a September 15 deadline for bids. According to press reports, European carriers interested in buying assets include Lufthansa, Ryanair, TUI and possibly Easyjet.
Last winter, Lufthansa agreed to lease about three dozen A319s and A320s and crews from Airberlin, to be used by Lufthansa’s Eurowings and Austrian Airlines subsidiaries.
On its website, Airberlin thanked government officials for approving the bridge loan as it looks for buyers. “Without guaranteed financial support at this time, Airberlin would have had to shut down operations immediately,” the company said.
Airberlin has posted a page of frequently asked questions for passengers.