FlyNiki partner Air Berlin names new supervisory board boss

Hans-Joachim Körber has been appointed new supervisory board chairman of budget airline Air Berlin.Company boss Joachim Hunold announced today (Tues) that the former head of wholesale retailer Metro AG will succeed Johannes Zurnieden by the beginning of next year.Zurnieden, who owns travel company Phoenix, will keep his Air Berlin shares. Hunold stressed Zurnieden will also remain a member of the supervisory board.”Johannes Zurnieden was a massive help in turning our company from a small charter carrier into Germany’s second-biggest airline,” Hunold said.Air Berlin started cooperating with Austrian low cost airline FlyNiki in 2004, a year after the company was founded. The German company increased its stake in FlyNiki by 25.9 per cent to 49.9 per cent with an option for a total takeover earlier this year.Air Berlin announced yesterday Christian Lesjak will head its route service department from next month. Lesjak became marketing and network strategies chief at FlyNiki four years ago.Air Berlin and FlyNiki joined international airline alliance Oneworld in July. The Berlin-based firm became a full member of the cooperation, while FlyNiki is now one of its non-voting members (affiliates). British Airways, Finnair and Japan Airlines are other members of Oneworld which was founded in 1999.Air Berlin had a turnover of 1.567 billion Euros in the first half of this year, a year on year drop of 4.6 per cent. Hunold explained the firm suffered under the temporary shutdown of European airspace following the eruption of Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull in March and April. It was forced to cancel dozens of flights after an ash cloud spread across the continent.Air Berlin served 3.73 million passengers in August of this year, up by 8.7 per cent compared to the same month in 2009. It had 21.65 million customers between January and August of 2010, 1.9 per cent more than it had in the same time span of the previous year.Meanwhile, Austrian Airlines (AUA) announced its passenger numbers rose by 11.2 per cent year on year last month. The former Austrian flagship carrier had 1.1 million customers in September.German aviation giant Lufthansa acquired a major stake in the indebted airline last year.