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Fewer Avios options: Lufthansa to take over 1/3rd of airberlin routes

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Whilst nothing is signed yet, the noises coming out of Germany suggest that Lufthansa is on the verge of taking over a third of the airberlin route network.

This will not be a long and drawn out affair.  Lufthansa would acquire the aircraft leases and the airberlin crew who fly them, and the switch would take place in late October.  The routes would be added to the existing Eurowings network.

The plan is that all airberlin and NIKI flights which do not feed into the hubs of Berlin or Dusseldorf will be transferred.  This includes flights out of Vienna, Stuttgart and Palma, where airberlin is the biggest airline.

airberlin lufthansa sale

airberlin has been losing money for a number of years, despite major capital injections from 29% shareholder Etihad.  airberlin has a decent long-haul network (here is Anika’s review of her recent New York to Berlin Avios redemption in business class) but short-haul has been hit by competition from Ryanair, easyJet, Wizz etc.

For airberlin, the deal makes sense.  It will have no impact on their long-haul operation.  It is no different to what British Airways did a few years ago when it span off its regional operations into BA Connect which was merged into Flybe.

The bigger question is why Lufthansa wants to buy the routes.  The view in Germany is that it is a defensive play.  If airberlin closes the routes, either voluntarily or because it goes bust, they would be picked up by low cost competitors who would gain a stronger foothold in Germany.  Eurowings may not be desperately keen to add these routes but it is even less keen to see its low cost competitors strengthened.

For Avios collectors, this would be a blow.  I doubt there are many HFP readers who fly airberlin short-haul on a regular basis.  They can provide a lifeline when jetting around Europe, especially as Avios seats are generally easy to find.

You will remember my article on how I saved £1,000 when I redeemed for Palma to Innsbruck on airberlin over the Summer.  Anika flew them from Split to Vienna yesterday – and back to London on BA – when direct flights from Split to the UK were at ludicrous £400+ prices.  These are both routes which will no longer be available for redemption if this deal goes through.

It isn’t clear what will happen to existing Avios redemptions in this scenario.  You might think existing bookings would be protected, but there are many examples in the hotel sector where a property rebrands from one chain to another and all existing redemption bookings are cancelled.  We would need to wait and see.


British Airways BA Amex American Express

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (September 2021)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

There are two official British Airways American Express cards. Both have increased sign-up bonuses until 2nd November 2021:

British Airways BA Amex American Express card

British Airways American Express

10,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and an Economy 241 voucher for spending ….. Read our full review

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

40,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points, such as:

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card:

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company Read our full review

You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies. This card has a limited time offer of 60,000 Avios when you sign up:

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

60,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for our latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios this month from offers and promotions.)

Comments (23)

  • JohnW says:

    Hopefully someone can help with this…

    I’ve got about 30k Miles & More points and looking to use them for a Swiss flight to GVA (I have to go there several time per year but usually just fly CE using RFS). However, I can see that it is 45,000 miles (business) for the flight but does not show how much the taxes are. I’ve tried to do a ‘dummy’ booking but it tells me that I haven’t got enough miles.

    Does anyone know how to find out how much the taxes will/would be for this route?

  • Neil says:

    Long live Air Berlin, i used 4500 avios and £22.50 to fly Berlin to Stockholm instead of paying £343 in cash.

  • Lady London says:

    As regards existing bookings, I had existing bookings on LH shorthaul flights within Europe when LH decided to move all of their own shorthaul flights to Germanwings. This was except for LH flights to MUC or FRA. My longhaul itinerary of which these flights were part, was totally messed about due to flight timing changes and deletions due to this decision by Lufthansa.

    The whole itinerary was ticketed on Lufthansa, BMI (whose miles I had used to make the booking) was no more. Lufthansa did not want to know and would take no responsibility for the mess in my itinerary caused by them moving flights around. It was a nightmare and I ended up with stops missed out that I had planned in, substandard flights I did not want and my timing messed up for the connecting long haul.

    So I wouldn’t be too optimistic if I had any short haul Air Berlin flights booked right now especially if they do not touch DUS or BER.

    FWIW I think Miles & Less is only worth it if you are at least a Senator.

  • will merrett says:

    I love AB, will be sad to see any routes go. Flown to Palma, Naples and Warsaw with them and enjoyed every flight. The chocolate hearts as you leave the plane are a great tough. I also love that thing on the Dash 8’s where you have to give them your hand luggage as you get on the plane and then you get given it back on tarmac as you get off the plane.

  • BORIS says:

    Will this effect the redemption of Miles under the Lufthansa 70th anniversary celebration (not sure that 1946 should be celebrated mind)?

    I have either 3 or 4 lots of 3500 miles so far by minimal switching, and 50k looks possible in the next 3 weeks without much pain.

  • Andreas says:

    And with that, the Star Alliance takeover of VIE will be complete. They will basically have a monopoly on most of the intra-Europe routes. Nowadays, they charge whatever they please out of Vienna, so when they’ll have no competition, the prices will go even further up.

  • MIM says:

    A little bell rang in my head just now, as I’m hoping to book a trip for my wife’s 50th next May, tomorrow, and I thought I’d seen a recent article about Air Berlin.

    Looking at MAN-DUB (paid for) for an over-nighter in Dublin, then DUB-BOS (Avios redemption with Aer Lingus) for a few nights in Boston

    Was looking at BOS-DUS with Air Berlin for the return (then DUS-MAN with FlyBe). Given the latest, am I best doing a straight BOS-DUB?

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