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Air Berlin plans to focus on better management of existing operations in a bid to achieve a profit, but would not undertake a massive savings programme. Michele Tantussi / Bloomberg News
Air Berlin plans to focus on better management of existing operations in a bid to achieve a profit, but would not undertake a massive savings programme. Michele Tantussi / Bloomberg News

Air Berlin thrives in Etihad's jet stream

Air Berlin said yesterday that the growth in passenger numbers from its partnership with Etihad Airways had "exceeded expectations" and that codeshare numbers would probably double this year.

Air Berlin said yesterday that the growth in passenger numbers from its partnership with Etihad Airways had "exceeded expectations" and that codeshare numbers would probably double this year.

The number of passengers more than tripled to 267,000 in the first half of this year from 75,000 in the same period in 2012, it said.

"With 449,000 passengers, this includes bookings made through July, the expectations for the entire year for the common codeshare routes have already been exceeded. Furthermore, Air Berlin is benefiting from codeshare agreements with partners of Etihad Airways' Equity Alliance, including Virgin Australia, Air Seychelles and Air Serbia," the arline said.

"Air Berlin and Etihad are also expanding their cooperation in other fields such as maintenance and procurement."

Air Berlin also said that 267,000 passengers had already traveled via its oneworld partner codeshares this year. Etihad is Air Berlin's largest shareholder, with more than 29 per cent, following a deal announced in December 2011.

The German carrier also said it would consider a capital increase to improve its financial position once investors were convinced by its turnaround programme.

The comments came a day after the debt-laden airline said it might have trouble reaching its earnings targets for 2013. But the chief executive Wolfgang Prock-Schauer said that its efficiency-boosting programme would "bear fruit" later in the year. "As a result of the generally muted economic conditions and the market environment, the ability to reach our targets is becoming increasingly challenging," Mr Prock-Schauer said. Air Berlin plans cost savings of at least 200 million (Dh976.2m) this year.

Air Berlin said yesterday it first planned to focus on better management of existing operations in a bid to achieve a profit, but would not undertake a massive savings programme.

Instead the company is looking to other measures, such as selling aircraft, to streamline its operations. It will sell about US$400 million worth of planes to a new Chinese lessor.

The transaction should be completed "within the next couple of days," the chief financial officer Ulf Huettmeyer told analysts yesterday. The deal would cover 13 jets, some to be placed in China and others leased back by Air Berlin, he said on a call from China.

The sale will bring Air Berlin close to its debt target of about 500m from 706m at mid-year, he said.

Second-quarter net loss narrowed to 38m from 99.8m a year earlier, the company said on Wednesday, thanks to increased capacity utilisation on a reduced number of routes on offer.

Revenues were stable at 1.11 billion in the April-June period compared with 1.13bn in the second quarter of 2012.

"In the second quarter, Air Berlin further increased its capacity utilisation, revenue per available seat kilometre and revenue per passenger," the company said.

The number of routes flown in the second quarter decreased from 520 in 2012 to 440 this year and capacity utilisation increased by four percentage points, to 83.7 per cent.

"Our key numbers are moving in the right direction," said Mr Prock-Schauer.

* Agencies

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