Hunold at the Annual General Meeting: Becoming a member of oneworld is the most important decision airberlin has made since its public offering – 2011 burdened by political unrest in Northern Africa and the air travel tax – Regular re-election of certain Board members
airberlin’s CEO Joachim Hunold stated that becoming a member of the global airline alliance oneworld® has been one of the most important business decisions since the company’s public offering. As Hunold declared at airberlin’s Annual General Meeting in London today: “International networking offers a huge opportunity for growth. Therefore, we have already concluded codeshare agreements with American Airlines, Finnair and S7. The contracts with Iberia and British Airways will follow shortly.“ Furthermore, as of June 20th, airberlin’s most recent transatlantic flight – Berlin/New York – will codeshare with American Airlines. Hunold stated: “In this manner, all our flights to North America will codeshare with our American partner.”
Membership in oneworld provides the prerequisites for connecting to important markets in America and Asia. airberlin passengers will be able to earn bonus miles on all flights operated by the 13 oneworld partners, and will be able to check through to 900 airports in 150 countries. As airberlin’s CEO explained: “Although the cost of becoming a member of the oneworld alliance will run in the lower two-digit millions, in the long term, under normal circumstances, we are expecting clear annual additional returns that exceed this one-time cost.“ The most important task lies in establishing compatibility with the booking systems of our future partners. “To a large extent, this would have been necessary, even if we had decided not to become a member of oneworld, namely it would have been imperative to meet the current market requirements,“ stated Hunold.
At the start of 2011, airberlin, the German market leader in Northern Africa, was faced with flight cancellations and thus loss of revenue, due to the political unrest in Egypt and Tunisia. As Hunold stated: “Flights to these two countries are still being booked reluctantly, and the increased capacities to the Canary Islands cannot entirely make up for this loss.” The company is also burdened by the German air travel tax, which, for airberlin, constitutes approximately four percent of total revenue, and the increased cost of kerosene. “Furthermore, the air travel tax leads to a distortion of competition, since freight and transit connections are exempt from this tax,” explained the CEO.
Hunold described airberlin as being “technically, personnel-wise and strategically well-positioned. Therefore, we will continue to hone our hybrid model which is being copied by an increasing number of our competitors.“ Furthermore, the general economic situation and the current booking status give airberlin reason to be optimistic. “I maintain that we can achieve a positive operating result despite the difficult first quarter of 2011, provided that the framework conditions remain manageable, in particular since we are also aiming to reduce cost by 100 million euros over this year and the next, by implementing our efficiency program ‘Accelerate’. All our efforts are geared towards increasing the earning power of our company, i.e., in the medium term, reaching an EBIT margin of 4 to 5 percent in a normal year,” stated Hunold.
airberlin sees the opening of the Berlin-Brandenburg International (BBI) Airport in June 2012, together with its upcoming membership in oneworld, as a huge opportunity for growth. Hunold stated: “Our hub in Tegel, which we have grown over the past year and which currently offers approximately 6,000 flight connections per week, will be expanded with BBI so that we are able to provide our passengers with an even better service.“
The Annual Financial Statements were accepted with a large majority at the Annual General Meeting on Tuesday. In addition to CFO Ulf Hüttmeyer, Directors Barbara Cassani, Saad H. Hammad, Nicholas Teller, and Johannes Zurnieden were re-elected as Members of the Board.