Air Berlin won't quit German capital

13th April 2004, Comments 0 comments

13 April 2004 , BERLIN - A spokesman for Germany's fast growing, second biggest airline, Air Berlin, on Tuesday denied media reports that the company planned to move its headquarters from the German capital. "We are still angry about subsidy policy and are bringing a lawsuit but there are no plans to move out of Berlin," said Peter Hauptvogel, Air Berlin's spokesman. Air Berlin chief executive Joachim Hunold has been complaining for months that low-cost airlines flying to Berlin's Schoenefeld airport pay l

13 April 2004

BERLIN - A spokesman for Germany's fast growing, second biggest airline, Air Berlin, on Tuesday denied media reports that the company planned to move its headquarters from the German capital.

"We are still angry about subsidy policy and are bringing a lawsuit but there are no plans to move out of Berlin," said Peter Hauptvogel, Air Berlin's spokesman.

Air Berlin chief executive Joachim Hunold has been complaining for months that low-cost airlines flying to Berlin's Schoenefeld airport pay lower landing fees than does his airline at the city's central Tegel airport.

Media reports said Air Berlin was planning to shift its corporate headquarters to either Leipzig or Dresden in eastern Germany - both of which expanded their airports after the 1990 German reunification.

Leipzig is also attractive because it allows 24-hour take offs and landings. Berlin has a strict ban on night flights.

The city of Berlin talked about building a new mega-airport for the last 14 years - but has not even managed to agree a financing concept for the EUR 1.7 billion project.

As a result, Berlin remains stuck with two mid-size airports - Tegel in former West Berlin and Schoenefeld in the former East - as well as smaller Tempelhof airport due to be closed later this year.

Despite being Germany's biggest city, only limited international flights serve Berlin with not a single transatlantic connection.

Given that Schoenefeld is less popular with travelers, Hunold alleges it has cut "secret" deals on cheaper landing rights for his low-cost competitors such as Easyjet.

"If ... air transport policy continues like this one will really have to consider whether this is the right place to be based and if Air Berlin is the right name for our airline," complained Hunold in an interview with Super Illu magazine earlier this week.

Air Berlin last year flew 9.6 million passengers - 44 percent more than in 2002 - mainly from Germany to destinations in southern Europe, such as Mallorca, where it has its own terminal.

This makes it the number two German air carrier behind heavyweight Lufthansa which flew 44.4 million passengers in 2003.

Air Berlin operates 44 jets, mainly Boeing 737-800s, and says it plans to oder 70 new planes in the next five years in order challenge Lufthansa on domestic German routes.

Although a low-cost airline, Air Berlin offers full service with meals and reserved seats.

Still privately owned, Air Berlin plans to go public in the next 12 to 15 months.

Founded in 1991 with 70 employees, Air Berlin now employs about 2,150 people.

DPA

Subject: German news 

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