Opening of New Berlin Airport Postponed Indefinitely

The opening of the new Brandenburg airport (BER) in Berlin, Germany, has been delayed indefinitely, according to recent reports in the German media.

The new airport was slated to open on June 3, 2012, and has been delayed due to problems with its fire safety systems. The new airport is intended to replace Berlin’s Tegel and Schonefeld airports.

The new opening date for the airport is yet to be announced, and sources say that it may be even later than the previously announced date of October this year.

A statement made by the airport authority reads, ‘This further delay is the result of problems with the fire protection system, in particular the fresh air supply in the case of a fire and the complexity of the system as a whole. Based on the previous timetable, construction work was due to be completed by May 2013 to allow a five-month period for trial operations before the official opening.’

The airport chief operations officer, Horst Amann, said, ‘We evaluated the current situation and the next steps concerning the construction work at BER. The analysis highlighted that there was an increased risk that the airport might not be operational by 27 October 2013 as planned. However, we decided to continue the evaluation of the opening date, rather than cancelling the opening date at that stage. This evaluation was concluded by 4 January 2013’

Air Berlin, the Germany based airline, which was scheduled to operate out of the new airport, has also released a statement. Air Berlin chief executive officer, Hartmut Mehdorn, said, ‘The situation is extremely tricky, as we have to contact at least one million passengers individually to inform them about their airport of departure or arrival. In addition, Air Berlin’s expanded and more ambitious flight schedule, planned for BER, now has to be handled using the old infrastructure at Tegel Airport, in the summer season, of all times. We must apologise to our passengers for this temporary arrangement; we ourselves are finding it difficult to live with.’

Air France Announces New Low Cost Fares

Air France, a France-based airline, has announced low cost fares for its passengers.

The Mini fare is the cheapest economy offering from the airline and does not include seat selection, checked luggage or frequent flyer miles. The new fares, commence from €49, and are on offer for 58 destinations in the domestic, as well as medium-haul routes.

The tickets are on offer currently, for travel from February 6, 2013, and are offered as an option that does not include the airline’s Flying Blue frequent flyer miles, or checked baggage.

The new fare is also being extended to six Cityjet-operated routes from London City to Brest, Nantes, Pau, Avignon, Toulon and Paris Orly.

The airline will also be continuing to offer its Classic fare, commencing from €69, which includes amenities such as seat selection, checked luggage, Flying Blue miles, complimentary snack, drink and newspaper, and a flight change facility.

Alexandre de Juniac, the chairman and chief executive of Air France, said, ‘With this new fare range that makes the Air France quality of service accessible to all, Air France is continuing to implement its Transform 2015 plan, which aims to put the customer at the heart of its development strategy.

This initiative is in addition to the renewal of the commercial offer launched in October 2012 with the strategy of moving up-market on the medium-haul network.

Air France is clearly illustrating its ambition to pursue a policy of constant adaptation of its products and services, and earn its customers’ preference.’

The airline currently offers services to more than a dozen destinations in the UK.

LOT Airline Announces Route and Job Cuts

Polish airline, LOT, has announced that it is reducing its fleet and employee levels due to an impending financial crisis.

The airline will be downsizing its fleet by around 15 aircraft, and will be making job cuts to reduce its employee strength by 30 percent, to stem its loss making services.

The Polish government, which owns around 93 percent of the airline’s stock, has offered a €97 million emergency loan to the company to sustain its operations.

LOT airline has been running at loss since 2010. In the last quarter, passenger traffic has reduced by around 20 percent, leading to a predicted loss of €1 million for 2012.

The announcement to downsize comes immediately after an earlier announcement by the airline that it was taking delivery of its initial Boeing Dreamliner aircraft. The new aircraft will have fully flat beds on offer for business class passengers.

The airline will now be concentrating on flying its most economical planes on its most beneficial routes. It currently flies to four destinations in the UK, London Heathrow, Birmingham, Manchester, and Edinburgh, and will continue to do so because of strong cultural and trade links between Poland and the UK.

Airlines from Eastern Europe have not been performing well in adapting to the latest technological upgrades, and LOT wants to be the exception to that rule. Most of these airlines face stiff competition from Air France, British Airways, KLM and Lufthansa on long-haul routes, and from budget airlines for domestic traffic.

Poland’s treasury minister, Mikolaj Budzanowski, in a statement to Polish parliament, said, ‘At least 30 percent or much more of headcount will be restructured, which is already taking place in the first quarter. In addition, there will be a fleet restructuring, with the focus on the most effective planes-some 25 of about 40 airplanes LOT has. The rest that are generating losses will be returned. Leasing agreements were signed years ago and it’s not profitable to be using those planes anymore.’