Airberlin’s loss is easyJet’s gain as the budget airline launches 19 new routes throughout Europe.
Thanks to Airberlin’s bankruptcy, easyJet is expanding further into the German market for flights. Last month, Easyjet spent about $48.2 million acquiring Airberlin aircraft leases and taking over assets the airline had at Berlin Tegel Airport (TXL). Last week, easyJet launched its first domestic route in Germany – which will soon join three other new domestic routes and 15 new international short-haul flights. The airline plans on flying 18 million passengers in and out of Germany annually once the expansion is complete, and expects one of every five customers to start or end their flight in Germany.
Although Lufthansa purchased some of Airberlin’s assets as well, this change in easyJet’s operations could be a challenge for the larger airline. The expansion is allowing Easyjet to operate in the business travel market – something Lufthansa currently has the lion’s share of – by flying up to five times a day to major business hubs like Vienna and Zurich.
“Easyjet’s agreement with the administrators of Airberlin has seen it acquire a leading position in the growing and attractive Berlin market for an upfront outlay of less than £200m,” air travel analyst Gerald Khoo told Skift.
Another analyst, Daniel Röska, agrees, noting that easyJet should surpass Lufthansa’s share in Berlin travel by the summer, thanks to the company’s “Castle and Moats” strategy.
“[The strategy works by] effectively making the product more attractive for business travelers, increasing pricing power and blocking out further competitive entry,” Röska told Skift.