Air Transport World

An old hand at low fares: Air Berlin melds tour-operator sales with rising seat-only business. (Profile).(Company Profile)

As carriers trying to replicate the successful Southwest Airlines model in one form or another multiply far and wide across the globe, segments of Germany's air transport industry only now are starring to market a lean travel commodity aimed at cost-conscious folk traveling for leisure and business.

Air Berlin has been doing it for years. Spokesperson Peter Hauptvogel tells ATW that the independent and privately owned airline has been adapting the Southwest pattern to its own network successfully ever since it restructured itself in 1997 in response to changes in the inclusive tour market. Flying from 17 German airports with a fleet that may number up to 36 737s--including 31 dash 800s--by the summer 2003 season (see box, p. 46), Air Berlin has built itself quietly into a not-to-be ignored player. The share of sears dedicated to full-charter activities has been falling over the past five years and will drop below 10% next summer, adding more flexibility for flight-only sales that now account for a third of offered capacity.

Launched in 1979 under US registry in then-divided Berlin as a charter carrier by onetime Pan Am pilot Kim Lundgren, the airline was reborn after the reunification of Germany in 1991 as Air Berlin GmbH & Co. …

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