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Air Berlin chief executive steps down following re-launch

Air Berlin chief executive steps down following re-launch

Air Berlin has confirmed Joachim Hunold will step down as chief executive on September 1st, to be replaced by Hartmut Mehdorn for an interim period.

The news comes as the carrier announces as series “far-reaching measures” in an attempt to return to profitability.

In a statement, the board of Air Berlin explained: “With these measures, the prerequisites that Air Berlin needs for a swift and comprehensive adaptation to the changed market environment are present.

“In this manner, the framework for a sustainable profitability of the company is provided.”

Hunold will remain bound to the company as a non-executive director.

Reform of Air Berlin

A package of measures introduced to stem losses at Air Berlin will see a capacity reduction of more than one million seats during the second half of 2011.

Eight aircraft will be cut from the carrier’s fleet, while unprofitable routes will be cancelled, flight frequencies will be reduced and Air Berlin will begin the partial withdrawal from regional airports.

The carrier will instead focus on the hubs at Berlin, Düsseldorf, Palma de Mallorca and Vienna.

For example, Air Berlin will stop operating its flight connections from Münster/Osnabrück to London, Vienna and Sylt.

The same applies to the connections from Cologne/Bonn to various destinations in Morocco and to Valencia.

Furthermore, direct flights from Cologne to Innsbruck, Naples and Palermo will no longer be available during the winter months.

The Hanover - London route will be also cancelled.

Air Berlin is acting to counter higher costs resulting from increasing aviation taxes, the increased price of aviation fuel and the decline of Egypt-related business.

“In order to become profitable, we need to make cuts in our flight routes and in our fleet” outgoing chief executive Hunold.

Air Berlin hopes to become profitable in 2012 once the full impact of the measures is felt.

The carrier is also calling for the end to punitive taxation.

“In order to prevent yet further damage to the already low-margin airline traffic in Germany, the aviation tax should be abolished as quickly as possible,” added Hunold.