Air Berlin’s restructuring plans hit a snag

Air Berlin A320 by Silvio Kelch via CC-SA

The AirBerlin restructuring seemed to be going awfully well. The company signed the expected agreement with Lufthansa Group to shift 40 aircraft over to the larger company and shed dozens of point-to-point routes from the operations. It even announced successful negotiations with trade union Verdi to bring the cabin crew contracts to a common contract and support the transition. But it didn’t quite finish negotiations with the pilots before the announcement. Turns out that is a bit of a problem.

As in the carrier is mostly shutting down for a day because it can no longer properly staff flights. Yeah, that is a problem.

The negotiated deal also includes TUIfly and flights operated by that company as a wet-lease for AirBerlin. The TUIfly operations are supposed to merge with NIKI to rebuild the point-to-point leisure operations under a new brand, backed by Etihad group. But the pilots union is not so happy with the situation and staged a sick-out, causing the cancellation of scores of flights. Airberlin was able to scramble and replace 30 of the 90 canceled flights with its own planes but the net effect is still a mess and it remains unclear just how long the staffing issues will remain. Obviously the company’s efforts to assuage union concerns came up short. That there is also speculation about TUIfly partnering with easyJet to give the British carrier a foothold on the Continent post-Brexit probably doesn’t help the situation.

But things were going so well when the deal was announced…

Header Image: Air Berlin A320 by Silvio Kelch via CC-SA 

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.