Air Berlin Set To Axe Alitalia Wet-Lease

Photo: Rob Finlayson

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As part of the ongoing rationalization of its operations, Air Berlin will shortly discontinue a wet-lease agreement with fellow Etihad Airways equity partner Alitalia.

At present, the bankrupt Italian carrier operates two A320-200s – EI-DSX (msn 3643) and EI-DSZ (msn 3695) – for the bankrupt German carrier on flights from Berlin Tegel to each of Budapest, Gothenburg Landvetter, Milan Linate, Munich, and Rome Fiumicino. However, according to an Air Berlin communique, this partnership will cease from September 28 onwards when the aircraft are returned to Alitalia.

Under bankruptcy proceedings instituted in August of this year, Air Berlin has returned multiple aircraft to lessors amid concerns about its short-term financial buoyancy. As recently reported, Air Berlin’s entire fleet of A330-200s will be returned to their respective owners through October 15 when it is scheduled to end all longhaul operations. Its last Dusseldorf-Los Angeles Int’l service will operate on September 25 followed by last flights from Dusseldorf to San Francisco, CA on October 14 and New York JFK, Miami Int’l and Fort Myers Southwest Florida on October 15.

Concerning its narrowbody fleet, Lufthansa Group and easyJet (U2, London Luton) have been selected as preferred bidders and are currently in talks with Air Berlin’s creditors’ committee. The negotiations are expected to last through to October 12 by which time a decision is expected to be made.

Ahead of the deadline, the Lufthansa Supervisory Board, on Tuesday, September 26, gave its consent to the proposed acquisition of sixty-one Air Berlin aircraft for placement with its Eurowings (EW, Dusseldorf) low-cost unit.

Lufthansa said in a statement the aircraft being eyed include forty-one A320 family jets as well as the twenty Dash 8-400s currently in service with LGW – Luftfahrtgesellschaft Walter (HE, Dortmund).

“The acquisition of the aircraft is partly dependent on the successful conclusion of negotiations to acquire parts of the Air Berlin Group,” it said. “The investments would be financed from existing liquid funds.”

Lufthansa Group already wet-leases a total of thirty-seven aircraft from Air Berlin including five A320-200s in service for Austrian Airlines (OS, Vienna), and twenty-one A320-200s and eleven A319-100s in service for Eurowings.