Air Berlin 737-800. Courtesy, Boeing

Air Berlin (AB) believes the carrier will be profitable again in 2012, having battled through this year’s crises in Europe and the introduction of Germany’s new aviation taxes.

CEO Hartmut Mehdorn told ATW in Vienna that the ecological air travel levy that took effect Jan. 1, costs the carrier “€180 million [$248 million] annually and we get no benefit out it” (ATW Daily News, Sept. 3, 2010). “Without this burden, we would operate [in the] positive,” said Mehdorn. He added that 2012 would not be not easy but, “If everything works well next year, we will make a profit again.”

Mehdorn said that if necessary AB will extend its cost-cutting program, Shape & Size, which is expected to reduce its fleet size by 10% and improve earnings by €200 million (ATW Daily News, Sept. 23). By the summer of 2012, the aim is to cut AB’s fleet from 170 to 152 aircraft. Mehdorn also said that employee layoffs could be possible at smaller- and medium-sized airports where AB has reduced its operations.

AB is in the final stages of joining oneworld alliance in early 2012 (ATW Daily News, March 17).  Mehdorn is hopeful that some oneworld members will operate to Berlin.

AB’s main hub will be the new Berlin Brandenburg Airport, which opens in June 2012 (ATW Daily News, Oct. 18).

Mehdorn, interim CEO since September when Joachim Hunold stepped down, expects to stay long enough to bring AB out of its financial crisis (ATW Daily News, Aug. 22).

Mehdorn said that so far the carrier is keeping its order commitment for 15 Boeing 787s and still expects first delivery in 2014, “but you never know,” he said (ATW Daily News, March 17, 2010).