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 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.
How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (August 2022)
As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!
In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.
You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:
There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:
You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.
EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.
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, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,000 Avios.
You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.
There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.
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.)