easyJet formalises up to 25 aircraft airberlin deal to boost presence in Germany

It took some time to formalise, but shortly after the last ever airberlin flight landed in Germany’s capital city, easyJet confirmed it had finally signed an agreement with the collapsed airline to acquire part of its operations at Berlin Tegel Airport. The €40 million acquisition remains subject to regulatory approvals and is expected to close in Dec-2017.

The deal will see easyJet enter into leases for up to 25 A320 aircraft, offering employment to around 1,000 airberlin flying and cabin crews and taking over other assets including slots. This agreement is consistent with easyJet’s strategy of investment in strong number one positions in Europe’s leading airports (or number two to a legacy incumbent).

It will enable easyJet to operate the largest short haul network at Tegel with an anticipated operation connecting passengers to and from destinations across Germany and the rest of Europe. It will also mark easyJet’s debut in the German domestic market. The Tegel growth is in addition to easyJet’s existing base at Berlin Schönefeld and will mean easyJet will become the leading airline in Berlin.

easyJet says it will make announcements on the new routes and services to be flown to and from Tegel “in due course”. The airline says it will operate a “reduced timetable” at Tegel during the winter season but plans to operate a full schedule from the summer season 2018.

Next year marks the twentieth anniversary of easyJet’s debut in the German market. It first started flights into Germany in 1998 on the London Stansted – Munich route and finally set roots in the country when it opened its base at Berlin in 2004. It has subsequently expanded its activities to cover seven German cities with links to 61 foreign destinations across an annual network of more than nine million total seats in and out of the country. This has seen it overtake Condor as the fifth largest operator in the country, boosted this year by the initial stages of the amalgamation of Germanwings flight activities into the Eurowings brand.

Berlin Schönefeld was its first base in Germany and remains its main focus in the country, accounting for almost two thirds of its activities this year. Having peaked at over a 70% capacity share of the airline’s German operations, easyJet’s Berlin operation has become diluted by its growth in the country, but has become increasingly important over the past two years, growing from a low of 59.4% in 2015 to 62.3% last year and up to 63.4% this year, based on OAG published schedules.

CHART – easyJet has grown its capacity out of Germany by an average annual rate of 5.6% over the past ten years and with the airberlin deal will have a stronger presence in its Berlin focus marketSource: The Blue Swan Daily and OAG

easyJet has had a long-term interest in Berlin’s aviation market. It is already the largest international carrier out of Schönefeld with a 41.2% departure capacity share (just ahead of Ryanair which has a 37.4% share) and has a 18.3% share of Berlin’s total system departure capacity. This ranked it as the second largest international carrier in the German capital behind only airberlin.