Air Berlin cuts capacity by 5% in turnaround drive

[Berlin] Air Berlin, Germany's second largest airline, said it is cutting the number of seats it offers by 5 percent and scrapping some of its routes as part of latest restructuring efforts to return to profits.

The reduction is less dramatic than the estimated 10 per cent the company had flagged in August when it announced new restructuring measures.

A spokesman on Friday said Air Berlin, which has only made an annual net profit once in the last six years, could potentially cut capacity further from the 5 per cent announced on Friday but that there were currently no plans to do so.

Among direct routes being scrapped by the airline are Berlin to Barcelona, Oslo and Miami, while its Niki unit will no longer fly to Frankfurt and Copenhagen from Vienna. Meanwhile, it will increase flights from Germany to Morocco and the Caribbean.

Also part of the restructuring is a closer cooperation with Alitalia, which saw Air Berlin and the Italian carrier sign a codeshare deal earlier this week. The spokesman said the deal created opportunities for Air Berlin to make more efficient use of its planes as they no longer have to stay overnight in Italy.

Air Berlin is 29 per cent owned by Abu Dhabi-based carrier Etihad. This week it has had to fight to get some code shares with Etihad approved for the winter flight plan after the German government initially rejected the arrangement, which allows the airlines to market tickets for each others' flights. REUTERS

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