Air Berlin passenger numbers take off

FlyNiki stakeholder Air Berlin registered more than 30 million passengers in the first 11 months of this year.The German airline announced today (Thurs) that it recorded 31.3 million customers between January and November of this year. The Berlin-based firm had 27.9 million passengers in 2009.Air Berlin also said it managed to increase its turnover by 13.7 per cent year on year to 2.81 billion Euros in the first three quarters of 2010 after having struggled in 2009 due to the global economic downturn.The company, which has 8,300 employees, holds a 49.9 per cent interest with an option for a total takeover of the Vienna-based low cost carrier FlyNiki.The airlines, which have been coordinating their flight plans and cooperating in promoting their services since 2004, have become a threat to market-leading Lufthansa and its Austrian subsidiary firm Austria Airlines (AUA).Air Berlin are currently holding wage negotiations with pilots who voiced anger about work conditions and salary rates. Three Air Berlin flights took off with delay this morning, and works council chiefs made clear plans to increase measures were underway. They warned the aviation company’s pilots were ready to go on strike if payment talks end without an agreement.Air Berlin said last month it planned to diminish its capacities in a reaction to the upcoming ticket levy the German government formed by the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) and the Free Democratic Party (FDP) recently agreed upon.The coalition said every ticket for a flight departing from Germany will be charged with eight to 45 Euros depending on the destinations from next year.Air Berlin, Germany’s second-biggest airline after Lufthansa, announced it would reduce its fleet by seven planes in the near future.The Austrian government of Social Democrats (SPÖ) and the People’s Party (ÖVP) announced in October that an Austrian flight ticket tax would come into force next April.Meanwhile, Air Berlin rival AUA said it recorded 798,100 passengers in November, 6.8 per cent more than it registered in the same month of last year.AUA served 10.2 million customers in the first 11 months of this year, which is a 9.9 per cent improvement compared to the same time span of 2009.