The newly appointed Chief Executive Officer of Air Berlin (AB, Berlin Tegel), Stefan Pichler, says his airline will consider expanding its longhaul route network once its financial outlook improves.

In an interview with Bloomberg news, Pichler said the German carrier may reintroduce direct flights to Asia while boosting codesharing opportunities with equity partner, Etihad Airways (EY, Abu Dhabi Int'l). Other regions that have shown strong growth potential are North America and the Caribbean, he added.

“Some of the traffic flows between Germany and some Asian markets are huge,” he said. “Once we stabilize the company, we’ll assess these markets and hopefully grow there.”

Air Berlin had offered non-stop flights to Beijing Capital and Shanghai Pudong in China, and Bangkok Suvarnabhumi and Phuket in Thailand in years past though these were eventually replaced with Etihad codeshares with the introduction of various restructuring programmes.

Following his appointment in February of this year, Pichler has set about developing his own turnaround plan targeting profitability by the second half of next year.

Under his three-phase programme, Pichler will focus on remodelling the carrier's management and leadership structures through to September of this year which will then be followed by studies focusing on market segmentation and capacity adjustments running through to March of next year. Thereafter, beginning in April 2016, the third and final phase will focus on profitability and growth.