If you are heading to the United States or the Middle East, airberlin is an excellent option. You will minimise your taxes and, in some cases, the Avios spent.
I wrote a long overview of airberlin in this Avios Redemption University article. I recommend that you take a look at it if you are not familiar with the airline.
The ‘sweet spot’ on airberlin in Berlin to Abu Dhabi. Because this just falls under 3,000 miles, you only need 50,000 Avios return in Business Class and 25,000 Avios return in Economy. Tax will be around £75.
All airberlin Business Class seats now have a flat bed. On the Abu Dhabi route, you also benefit from a free chauffeur service in Berlin and Abu Dhabi as they are Etihad codeshare routes.
Note that Dusseldorf to Abu Dhabi is just over 3,000 miles. An Avios redemption on this route is poorer value at 80,000 Avios return in Business and 40,000 return in Economy.
The new Stuttgart route
airberlin announced last week that it is launching Stuttgart to Abu Dhabi from December 1st. There will be one flight per day.
Slighly oddly, it is using an Airbus A320 aircraft. This is a single aisle short-haul aircraft. It will be configured with 12 business class seats and 132 economy seats – this means, I imagine, that they are not treating it as a long-haul route. You simply couldn’t get 12 flat bed seats and 132 economy seats into an A320.
At the time of writing, redemption seats were not loaded into ba.com. Great Circle Mapper says that Stuttgart to Abu Dhabi is 2,967 miles. This means that is should also fall into the ‘sweet spot’ of 50,000 Avios return in Business and 25,000 return in Economy. If they are not running flat beds then the Berlin service will be far preferable. If that is not available this would make a good value alternative.
The new Vienna route
airberlin has a sister airline in Austria called NIKI which was once owned by racing driver Niki Lauda. NIKI is launching an identical service to Abu Dhabi from Vienna which starts on November 1st.
Again, it will run daily and use an Airbus A320.
I have seen NIKI flights on ba.com before for Avios redemption although this route does not yet seem to be available. At 2,637 miles it would fall clearly into the 25,000 / 50,000 Avios zone although I have no idea what sort of business class service NIKI offers.
What about Aer Lingus and Abu Dhabi?
I wonder when Aer Lingus is finally going to announce an Abu Dhabi route? It is quite a while now since Etihad invested in the airline, and the only way that Etihad can make a decent return is to start funnelling long-haul passengers to Abu Dhabi. The goal should be to persuade Irish passengers flying East not to fly to London for a BA connection.
With airberlin now offering services to Abu Dhabi from Berlin, Dusseldorf, Stuttgart and Vienna to supply transfer passengers to its major shareholder, it is odd that Aer Lingus is not doing the same.