Topic of the Week: The Reunification of Berlin

Next June, Berlin finally consolidates its commercial air traffic at the new Berlin Brandenburg Airport (built on the old Schoenfeld Airport). Historically, Berlin hasn’t been able to support much service to the US, but Air Berlin is betting that this will change. Its three weekly nonstop flights between JFK and Berlin will go daily while the airline will also start nonstop flights to LA three times a week.

Will this new airport really make a difference? Will Berlin finally become a major operation or will these just fizzle away?

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13 Comments on "Topic of the Week: The Reunification of Berlin"

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Gary Leff
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The *airport* won’t be the major driver, if Berlin transatlantic service works it’ll be because of Air Berlin’s tie-up with American. Of course, the new airport will be a better place to connect than Heathrow for American’s customers…

Greg
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I rally preferred flying into CDG and connecting to THF or TXL, the new airport is too far out.

Marc
Guest

I see this as a huge chance for not only berlin, but also for airberlin and germany itsself! The airport really isnt that much futher out depending on where you wanna go. And TXL and (already closed) THF were already operating at their max capacity. Berlin has huge growth potential and the new airport in combination with airberlin will surely make best use of it.

And BTW, according to internal sources BER will see a few other oneworld carries flying into BER next year. AA, CX, JL,…

David SF eastbay
Member
Well there is a lot of history there both good and bad. With an AA/AB tie up it could just be a big connecting center depending on how many cities you can connect to and how many U.S. both carriers have nonstop flights from. But it would be a very long time before you see AA/AB being able to compete with UA/LH at FRA and MUC. Air Berlin does fly to other U.S. cities during the summer so maybe they will turn some of those flights into year round also. The SFO service going year round would help AA/AB compete… Read more »
MathFox
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Well, Berlin holds a significant home market (both in population and as destination) and consolidating the traffic to a single airport creates an airport approaching hub-scale. It will serve Berlin well, has good (public transport) connections to the city, I expect no big changes in passenger numbers originating from or having their final destinations in the Berlin region. We’ll have to see how economy develops in the coming years, how many airlines will pick up flying into BER with their new 787s… Air Berlin by itself won’t be able to make Berlin a major hub, but the consolidation provides more… Read more »
Sanjeev M
Guest
Thanks Brett for bringing this topic up. Having a single consolidated airport is best to nurture economic growth. Some people are complaning that it’s too far from the city but 20 min by train or 15 miles by car sounds great by American standards. Ryanair has threatened to leave once the new airport opens but I highly doubt it (plus I think the new airport has some ground level gates). Looking at AB’s schedule right now they don’t really have much of a hub structure to deal with USA connections. Also they need to grow in Eastern Europe or the… Read more »
Jim
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I don’t think there will be more O&D traffic to Berlin. Due to the dominance of Frankfurt, I don’t think it will be much of a hub, either. It will probably just be as big as the sum of the two airports it’s replacing.

Sanjeev M
Guest
Well hopefully it can even maintain the sum of the two airports it’s replacing. I think the belief is that if AB doesn’t grow into the hub and oneworld, then AB will be sandwiched by LH on the upper end and easyJet/Ryanair/germanwings at the lower end. That could be problematic for AB and actually shrink Berlin traffic from what it is today. AB is not in the best financial shape so they need to take this new airport in full swing (with help from Oneworld partners for feed). They cannot afford to be the semi-leisure/charter airline that they have been… Read more »
malbarda
Member
Berlin – NY? Delta tried and failed. Continental tried and failed. I lived in Berlin for 3 years (under the flight path of historic Tempelhof) and the real problem with Berlin is not what it is (the capital, the political center, historic and beautiful tourist destination) but what it isn’t: a business hubb. There are few major businesses based there. So tourism is really the only reason to fly, and I think that’s where Air Berlin might stand a better chance than the US carriers. Because AB will cater mostly to regional “outbound” travelers wishing to visit the US and… Read more »
Jeff S
Guest

I just visited the site of the new Berlin airport and it’s quite extraordinary. It will see 77 operations per minute, which is busier than ATL.

Hermann
Guest
I don´t think we will see significant traffic there anytime soon. I agree with Maarten that BER does not have much premium travel demand and there is not much in the area to warranta long term growth in the business travel market. Plus, IMHO AB will partly hub there because FRA and MUC are in LHs tight grip and DUS is getting increased attention from LH as well with flights to Asia coming in. Lastly, AB does not have the product to appeal to business travellers. My view of BER is that it is a major airport mainly for political… Read more »
Carl
Member
I don’t think that the consolidation of TXL and SXF at BER (or BBI?) will have any meaningful impact on transforming Berlin into a hub or long-haul airport. The entry of AB into oneworld and code-sharing with AA have more potential to increase traffic and connecting traffic for AB; however AB has a strategic decision to make about whether to hub at DUS or BER. To date, DUS hosts the majority of AB’s long-haul traffic. DUS is a greater business center and generator of premium traffic and cargo. So in addition to deciding on DUS vs. BER, AB also needs… Read more »
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