Airberlin, Germany’s second-largest airline, has filed for bankruptcy. Airberlin flights are still operating as normal for the moment, thanks to a loan from the German government. But the long-term future for the airline is perilously uncertain.

Airberlin is a partner airline of both Qantas, through its membership in the Oneworld alliance, and Virgin Australia.

The airline has promised to honour existing bookings. If you’re booked on an Airberlin flight departing in the next 2-3 months, your flight will probably operate as scheduled. However, it remains unclear whether the airline will continue to operate once the loan from the German government runs out. If you’re booked on an Airberlin flight more than 3 months in the future, you may wish to change your ticket as Airberlin may not exist by then.

Another Etihad investment is going broke! This time Air Berlin has filed for bankruptcy. It looks like flights will continue to operate as scheduled for now.

Just yesterday Air Berlin was spruiking the success of its new European Business class…

Airberlin has stated that any tickets issued before 11 August 2017 are not refundable. This includes refundable “Flex” tickets. But you may be able to claim a chargeback from your credit card provider, should the airline eventually go out of business.

Topbonus is the frequent flyer program of Airberlin. It’s a separate entity to the airline and is majority-owned by Etihad. But if you have Topbonus miles, the advice is to redeem them as soon as possible. There is a very high risk that Topbonus miles will soon become worthless.

Unfortunately, redeeming Topbonus miles appears to be easier said than done. The Topbonus Shop, where miles can be redeemed for merchandise and gift cards, was taken down shortly after the airline’s insolvency was announced. There have also been reports that Airberlin is no longer issuing redemption tickets for both its own flights and those of partner airlines.

Topbonus has also stopped awarding miles for taking Airberlin flights.

A €150 million loan was given to Airberlin by the German government to ensure those currently on holiday in Europe are not left stranded. There will also be a federal election in Germany next month, on 24 September. The size of the loan is likely designed to ensure the airline continues to operate until at least after this date.

Etihad, which had owned a 29.2% stake in Airberlin, has withdrawn financial support. Airberlin is currently in takeover negotiations with several airlines, including Lufthansa and Easyjet. A takeover bid would likely secure the jobs of many of Airberlin’s workforce, but does not guarantee that existing Airberlin tickets would remain valid.

The future of Airberlin will become clearer in the coming months. In the meantime, it would be wise to spend any Topbonus miles you may have immediately. And if you’re booked on an Airberlin flight in more than 3 months from now, you may wish to change to another airline.

Forward bookings will now virtually cease. Plausible a short extension from government to prevent chaos but likely to have a limited timeframe attached to it.

Agree, burn any miles asap!

Join the discussion HERE.


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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]