Air Berlin To Join Oneworld In 2012

Germany’s Air Berlin has announced it is to join Oneworld, becoming the first low cost carrier in the world to be part of a major airline alliance. The airline is expected to start flying as a part of Oneworld in early 2012, coinciding with the opening of the new Berlin Brandenburg International Airport, which is being developed as a major air hub in Europe.


The Berlin-based airline has signed a memorandum of understanding with Oneworld, with a formal membership agreement due to be completed soon that will see it fill a gap in the alliance’s presence in continental Europe. Air Berlin will add almost 75 gateways to Oneworld, including its hubs in Berlin and Dusseldorf, as well as expand the alliance’s network to almost 900 destinations in nearly 150 countries. Members of the airline’s Topbonus frequent flyer program will be able to earn and redeem rewards on any of the alliance’s 13 carriers, with top tier members also enjoying access to Oneworld’s 550 airport lounges, while Oneworld frequent flyers will soon be able to earn and redeem rewards when flying Air Berlin.


In preparation for its membership, the carrier will initially develop cooperative agreements with American Airlines and Finnair in the upcoming winter flying season, allowing it to codeshare on flights to 15 additional destinations in the USA, 2 destinations in the Bahamas and to points in Europe and Asia. Similar agreements with British Airways and Spain’s Iberia are planned to follow.


Air Berlin’s membership, together with Austria’s NIKI joining the alliance as an affiliate member, will place the group in a better position to compete with rival Lufthansa and its Star Alliance network. Oneworld is also poised to grow in Russia and South Asia with the entry of S7 Airlines in the coming months and Kingfisher Airlines next year.


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