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GERMAN CARRIER Air Berlin is making a raft of route cuts to cities including Manchester and London, as part of a 'Shape and Size' programme aimed at returning the airline to profitability. The move sees a reduction in capacity of over one million seats this year, with eight aircraft leaving the fleet.
Among the UK routes being cut are Munster/Onasbruck- London, Hanover-London, and Paderborn-London/Manchester. The carrier will also cancel flights between Frankfurt and Hamburg/Naples, Stuttgart and St Petersburg, Munich and Cairo, and Dusseldorf and Paris. Air Berlin CEO Joachim Hunold announced his resignation immediately after the planned cuts were revealed. The role is temporarily being filled by Hartmut Mehdorn.
Hunold blamed the carrier's lack of profitability on increases in taxes and fuel prices, and called for Germany's aviation tax to be abolished "as soon as possible". He also cited a decline in North Africa-related business due to recent unrest in the region, saying that "for weeks on end" there were no flights to Egypt, when a destination the carrier normally serves with around 80 flights per week. He calculated that losses from capacity reductions to the North Africa region alone has amounted to €20 million for the second quarter of this year.
The Shape and Size programme will see the carrier partially withdraw from regional airports, concentrating on its successful hubs at Berlin, Dusseldorf, Palma de Mallorca and Vienna.
However Hunold said that Air Berlin was "on the right track towards consolidation", with increased yields and load factors in the second quarter of this year, and reductions in costs.