Air Berlin (AB, Berlin Tegel) has outlined the initial stages of its planned restructuring programme aimed at returning the loss-making carrier to what CEO Wolfgang Prock-Schauer termed "sustainable profitability" within the next three years.

Announcing a net profit of EUR8.6million (USD11.43million) for the airline's second quarter, Prock-Schauer said the turnaround plan would focus on three core segments, namely the European, tourist and long-haul markets.

"Over the last few months we have been intensively working on the restructuring program. After diligently weighing and validating all of our options in the past months, we decided that Air Berlin will continue to serve the three core segments, namely Europe, touristic and long haul. We substantially change the way we do business and the way we serve our market,” he said.

In terms of its network, Air Berlin will focus on the largest travel markets in the DACH region (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) as well as Palma de Mallorca "and connect these high volume routes with high frequencies in point-to-point traffic." Additional network focus and productivity will also come from the adoption of the "base" concept.

With the overhaul aim of reducing the impact of seasonality, Air Berlin will supplement its core, non-seasonal routes with summer-peak flights to leisure destinations. To allow it to derive maximum benefit from the summer season, heavy aircraft maintenance will be scheduled for winter while some summer capacity will be switched from its business routes to leisure routes.

In line with these network adjustments, Air Berlin says it intends to reduce its fleet by approximately 10 aircraft while striving to harmonize it narrow-body jet fleet across its entire network. As it stands, all stations, with the exception of Berlin Tegel, Düsseldorf and Munich, have been allocated either A320 or Boeing 737 aircraft.

The carrier says it is already in the process of streamlining and restructuring the Air Operator Certificates it uses (AOCs) namely its Swiss and Austrian subsidiaries, Belair Airlines (4T, Zurich) and Niki (HG, Vienna), as well as German partner LGW - Luftfahrtgesellschaft Walter (HE, Dortmund) which operates wholly under Air Berlin's livery and code, and TUI fly (Germany) (X3, Hanover) which provides it aircraft on a wet lease basis.

Concerning its labour costs, an agreement has already been reached with unions over the closure of five bases - Münster/Osnabrück, Hanover, Dortmund, Erfurt and Dresden. Around 100 pilots will consequently move to Berlin and Duesseldorf from mid-November resulting in increased productivity and lower operating costs.

Prock-Schauer said Air Berlin has also begun to exploit its relationship with parent Etihad Airways (EY, Abu Dhabi Int'l) while also putting together a new bilateral cooperation with Alitalia (AZ, Rome Fiumicino), which is set to become the latest addition to the Etihad airline portfolio in due course.

"We will announce further details and the complete range of measures at the end of September. The entire program is aiming to move us into sustainable profitability. Our guests and partners can rely on the fact, that Air Berlin will continue to have a competitive offer in Europe, and remain a prime partner for tourism and long haul travel," Prock-Schauer concluded.