Air Berlin to expand Abu Dhabi links

11 Feb 2014 by Alex McWhirter

Berliners will soon have improved access to Asia and Australasia when Air Berlin steps up services to Abu Dhabi in October.

From October 24, the airline will twice daily deploy A330-200s — configured with 19 business and 279 economy seats — from Berlin Tegel on behalf of UAE carrier Etihad, which owns an almost 30 per stake in Air Berlin.

The new flights will depart from Tegel at 1045, arriving into Abu Dhabi at 1950. The inbound service departs Abu Dhabi at 0910 to arrive back in Berlin Tegel at 1300.

Air Berlin and Etihad tailfins

As might be expected, these schedules are aimed at boosting connectivity. Right now the existing Air Berlin flights allow connections to 19 destinations beyond Abu Dhabi, but from next October the total will rise to 43.

Typical onward connections are to cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Sydney and Melbourne. There are also links to six cities within India.

James Hogan, president and CEO of Etihad, said: "The partnership between Etihad and Air Berlin continues to move from strength to strength with 560,000 passengers flying across our networks in 2013, a 74 per cent increase on the previous year."

Berlin is a classic example of a major European city which is neglected (for long distance flights) by its national airline.

Lufthansa does not operate long-haul from Germany's capital, so therefore Berliners wishing to sample their national carrier must route via Frankfurt or Munich. And this provides a selling point for foreign carriers whether based in Europe or further afield.

As far as the Gulf airlines are concerned, Qatar Airways has a presence in Berlin. But, so far, Emirates has been thwarted in its bid to launch flights.

Besides serving its own citizens, Berlin's catchment area covers the former East Germany and Poland. Indeed, some areas of Poland are closer to Berlin than to Warsaw.

Alex McWhirter

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