20 April 2004
BERLIN – German airline Air Berlin further solidified its position as number two in Germany’s aviation sector with a 33.9 percent rise in passenger numbers to 2.27 million in the first quarter of this year, the company said.
Revenues increased 37.3 percent to EUR 170 million, the airline said. Seating capacity utilisation improved to 74.8 percent, from 73.5 percent previously.
“We are operating clearly better than planned,” chief executive Joachim Hunold said. “In view of the our advance bookings we can expect good results for the year 2004.”
The business figures come shortly after Air Berlin made its anger clear about its landing fees at Berlin’s central Tegel airport, but the airline also denied media reports it was planning to move out of the German capital.
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 Tegel airport.
Given that Schoenefeld, in the eastern part of Berlin, is less popular with travellers, 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.
Germany’s top air carrier is Lufthansa, which flew 44.4 million passengers in 2003.
Still privately owned, Air Berlin plans to go public in the next 12 to 15 months.
Subject: German news