Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Cheap Avios deals on airberlin may be over as the end beckons …..

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Ever since it joined the oneworld alliance, airberlin has offered some exceptional bargains for Avios collectors.

As I wrote in this article, you have been able to fly to the USA and Abu Dhabi paying only minimal taxes.  Since that article was published, airberlin has added a raft of new US routes on top.

A one way airberlin Avios redemption in business class from the US to Germany costs just £4 in taxes and charges.  A return is a bit more because of German airport taxes but you will pay under £100 return.  Berlin and Dusseldorf are also easy to reach from many UK regional airports.

The service isn’t shoddy either – here is Anika’s review of her recent New York to Berlin Avios redemption in business class.  Etihad, the 49% shareholder in airberlin, oversaw an upgrading of its business class with new fully flat seats.  The food is very Germanic but apart from that ….

Is the end nigh for airberlin?

Back in September, I wrote about how Lufthansa is taking over a third of the airberlin route network.

From 31st March 2017, all airberlin and NIKI flights which do not feed into the hubs of Berlin or Dusseldorf will be transferred to Eurowings.  This includes flights out of Vienna, Stuttgart and Palma, where airberlin is the biggest airline.

The deal is a ‘wet lease’.  The planes and crew remain with airberlin but Eurowings will pay a fixed fee to lease them.  Eurowings will keep all of the revenue from the services and therefore takes all of the economic risk.

40 planes are involved, of which 35 will be branded as Eurowings with the other five passing to Austrian.  airberlin is also having discussions with TUI about the remaining NIKI operation based in Austria. This is, in theory, a six year deal although it is difficult to imagine the operation of the routes ever passing back to airberlin.

I saved a four figure sum using Avios to fly from Palma to Innsbruck on airberlin / NIKI last summer.  Taking the same trip this year will be very expensive.

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.

It is now beginning to look as if this is only part of the story, however …..

Lufthansa may be acquiring the rest of airberlin

airberlin has been losing money for a number of years, despite major capital injections from 29% shareholder Etihad.  There are even rumours that Etihad CEO, James Hogan, may lose his job after losing $2.6bn on investments in airberlin, Air Serbia and Alitalia.

airberlin has a decent long-haul network  but short-haul has been hit by competition from Ryanair, easyJet, Wizz etc.  I thought that retrenching to a hub and spoke network, with its remaining short haul flights providing feed to the long haul flights out of Berlin and Dusseldorf, would keep airberlin afloat.  It now seems not.

Reports in the German media have said that the German Government would be supportive of Lufthansa taking over the rest of airberlin – ie the long haul routes and the feeder flights.  airberlin has just fired its CEO and the replacement is reportedly being appointed with a ‘to do’ list consisting of just one item.  They are not concerned about competition issues – the German Government has spent years trying block the ‘Middle East 3’ from getting established at Frankfurt and Dusseldorf in order to protect Lufthansa.

For Lufthansa this would be a smart move.  Once Berlin Brandenburg airport finally opens, it will have a brand new facility with enough space to ramp up operations.  Lufthansa was at serious risk here, having put all of its long-haul eggs in the Frankfurt and Munich baskets with no long haul presence from the national capital.

At a stroke, taking over airberlin will give it dominance of the long haul market from Germany and pole position at the new airport.  It won’t complain at gaining a major presence at Dusseldorf either.

For Avios collectors, this would be a blow.  You can say goodbye to those low tax redemptions out of Germany.  With Aer Lingus also increasing its taxes and charges sharply following the launch of AerClub, 2017 may not be a good time to Avios rich but cash poor.

It isn’t clear what will happen to existing Avios redemptions on airberlin 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 points from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (October 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:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

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.

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

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points (SPECIAL OFFER), £200 travel credit and unbeatable 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, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,000 Avios.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,500 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa 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 and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

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

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.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year 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.

Comments (71)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • xcalx says:

    Sorry for the OT (no bits today)

    I received an email from Ryanair to complete a survey because we had a flight delay. One question asked had we been informed of our right to EU 261 compensation.

    The day of the flight, the incoming flight from AGP landed 1hour 40 mins late, by the time we started boarding we were now at 2 hours delayed. The weather had been overcast until now then the heavens opened and an inch of snow fell in the next 15 mins, this caused a further delay of 1 hour 5 mins whilst the runway was cleared.

    The captain came on the speaker every 15 mins apologising for the delay and informing us that unfortunately Michael O’leary had no control over the weather -Yet.

    Is there a way to check the official cause of the delay. Had the flight left on time we would have been 33,000 feet above the Pyrenees when the snow arrived at LBA

  • Scott says:

    Just another nail in the coffin for the points game. Compared to when I started two years ago its just getting so hard to get points and a good redemption deal thinking of calling it a day

  • N says:

    “Once Berlin Brandenburg airport finally opens”

    Surely you mean “If Berlin Brandenburg airport finally opens”

  • MIM says:

    I’ve got a BOS-DUS Avoid redemption booked for May as part of a trip for my wife’s 50th birthday.

    How worried do I need to be?

    (Have paid cash with Eurowings for the final DUS-MAN leg)

    • MIM says:

      A bit of a Freudian slip from my phone’s autocorrect…

      That should be Avios not Avoid….

    • Rob says:

      Fine for May, this will drag on for ages

      • Brian W says:

        I hope ‘ages’ = past June and July also as I have long haul return redemtions for 5 out of TXL booked with cash flights paid for to position there.

        Although this makes me a bit nervous I too would hope that a complete takeover would likely take a lot more than 6-7 months to complete especially when they have the short haul integration to deal with over the next few months.

        Fingers crossed. Shame its coming to an end though.

  • Alan says:

    PS Rob – getting video ads suddenly blaring out on this page, anything you can do about these?

    • Rob says:

      What is the company? Can block it if Google is serving it.

      • Alan says:

        Damn sorry, forgot to take a note of it – will let you know if it happens again!

        • Brian Peers says:

          If you use chrome i’d recommend looking at the beta chrome flags.
          There is one which lets you mute tabs by clicking on the speaker at the top
          chrome://flags/

          • Alan says:

            Thanks, good tip. You can always right click and mute too, but don’t want to have to do it every time so will just try and keep a note and let Rob know 🙂

  • Mark1980 says:

    Can you select seats on Air Berlin Avios redemptions?

  • bradbobley says:

    any chance that LH taking over AB could mean a sneaky way of getting higher LH status through the backdoor? by doing status match now.

  • Third Passport says:

    What a shame. I flew to Abu Dhabi in AB Business Class and loved the service, both on board and on the ground. One of my favourite Avios redemptions.

    • xcalx says:

      Agree, the on board service on that route is excellent far better than the MIA-TXL and DUS-CUN Business flights I have also flown with AB( not that they were bad). I remember thinking at the time that more money must be allocated for the in flight food and drink on the TXL-AUH route to please Etihad.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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