Home Industry News The airberlin Bankruptcy: What It Means for You

The airberlin Bankruptcy: What It Means for You

Germany’s second-largest airline and Oneworld alliance member goes bust and gets a short-term bailout. Here’s how the situation could affect you.

The airberlin Bankruptcy What It Means for You
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So what’s happening with the airberlin bankruptcy, and why does it matter?

Despite downsizing in early 2017 and major cash infusions from lead shareholder Etihad Airways, Germany’s second-largest airline hasn’t been able to stay afloat. On August 15, 2017, Etihad refused to pump more money into ailing airberlin, and the airline filed for insolvency. Through its eponymous airline and low-cost subsidiary NIKI, airberlin services 30 million passengers per year. It operates direct flights out of eight key US markets, meaning the airberlin bankruptcy potentially affects a number of Europe-bound Americans.

Should I panic if I already purchased a ticket to fly airberlin in the coming months?

In short: kind of! If your flights are scheduled between now and September 30, 2017, there should be no need to worry. The German government is providing a loan of 150 million euros to keep airberlin operating in the short-term. However, on August 29, 2017, airberlin announced cancellations of flights from Oct 1 onward between its Berlin hub and major cities like: Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and San Francisco.

What about booking airberlin flights in the future?

We had assumed that given current operational costs, the loan provided by the German government should cover the airline until November 2017. This does not seem to be the case. Rumors of an all-out acquisition by Lufthansa seem to be floundering, though Lufthansa still seems optimistic about taking over several of airberlin’s long-haul flights.

Can I still book a new ticket on airberlin? And should I?

airberlin is still accepting reservations through August 2018, though at this point we advise against new reservations. While we are hoping for the best, it’s rather optimistic to book an airberlin ticket so far in the future. After another round of restructuring or acquisition, more routes could be cut or the airline could disappear altogether.

Can I still book an award/mileage ticket on airberlin? And should I?

On August 25, 2017, airberlin’s frequent flyer program, topbonus, also filed for bankruptcy. This means the collecting and redeeming of topbonus miles has been suspended. Mileage seats on airberlin can no longer be booked through most Oneworld alliance partners, including American Airlines. British Airways is still showing some mileage seat availability on airberlin but this is likely to disappear soon. Even in the event you find award space on airberlin, our advice is to look elsewhere.

Can I get a refund if I already bought an airberlin ticket?

Possibly. airberlin is not offering refunds for future flights purchased directly through its website (and has no plans to do so). However, bookings made through third parties or directly with airlines and purchased using specific credit cards can come with a form of Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption Travel Insurance.

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Award-winning travel writer and economist Paul Rubio is a credit card enthusiast, whose sophisticated use of points and rewards has helped him travel to 132 countries for free. Paul is a Harvard graduate with a master’s degree in public administration and a master’s degree in economics. He also holds a bachelor’s degree from Boston University with a double major in economics and environmental policy and a minor in conservation biology. He attended both undergraduate and graduate schools on full scholarships. Paul worked in the field of wildlife conservation before embracing his writing talents full-time in 2008. Since then, he has won more than two dozen national awards for his exemplary work in travel journalism. The prolific writer contributes to a number of top-tier international, national, and regional publications including Condé Nast Traveler, Florida Design, Fodors.com, Palm Beach Illustrated, and Robb Report.