Air Berlin is poised to enter the important 180-mile Frankfurt-Zurich business route currently monopolised by Lufthansa and Swiss.
The budget German airline will fly four times a day on weekdays and once daily at weekends. Flights commence on April 24 with lower fares and business traveller friendly timings.
Conventional wisdom had it that Frankfurt’s main International airport had been closed to budget carriers because suitable “slots” were impossible to find.
But Air Berlin has become an exception to the rule. According to an Air Berlin spokesperson, the EC competitions’ department has instructed Lufthansa to release a number of Frankfurt slots because it is the process of buying out Zurich-based Swiss which will end any competition between the two carriers. Swiss will also join the Star Alliance next week.
Air Berlin flights will depart Frankfurt at 0645, 1130, 1455 and 1900. From Zurich, the services will leave at 0905, 1305, 1645 and 2105. Flight time is 60 to 70 minutes.
When Business Traveller checked Air Berlin return prices for travel out of Frankfurt on April 24 with a return from Zurich on April 25, we were quoted €60 for off-peak and €88 for peak time flights. By contrast, Lufthansa was charging a competitive €99 for off-peak flights (a new lower tariff introduced in response to Air Berlin) but peak time services were priced at a hefty €608.
The following month sees Air Berlin add additional flights to Helsinki and open two new routes to Denmark. Flights will operate once daily from May 2 between Berlin Tegel and Helsinki. On the same day there will also be new services to Copenhagen from both Berlin Tegel and Hamburg.
For more information go to airberlin.com.
Report by Alex McWhirter