Busted Airlines #3: Air Berlin
Theoretically, this series is about Airlines That Went Bust Since 2017.
In reality, it's about Montenegrin banana importers, Turkish truck drivers, false claims about negotiating with Somali pirates(!), Ibiza techno club collabs, the Indian Mafia, and the urgent government rescue of 110,000 sunburned Brits On Tour.
(all of this madness is stuff we stumbled across while updating our tool that tells you carry-on luggage restrictions for every airline in the world).
If there's any airline – or any wild story – we missed, let us know.
Last time, we queried whether Aeropostal Alas de Venezuela actually wants to take our money. So which busted airline is next – and how did they go bust?
What if we told you this airline was taken down by a vast conspiracy spanning the entire European continent? We may just do that. Read on to find out...
Unexpectedly, Air Berlin was founded by American interests – in fact, the original registration was 'Air Berlin USA' – in 1978, to provide airline service to West Berlin, which West German airlines couldn't serve due to, ahem, "political restrictions" on East German airspace.
Through savvy leadership, it grew to be Germany's second-largest airline, as well as Europe's tenth-largest airline in terms of passengers carried.
But as competition heated up across Europe, Air Berlin found itself in a race to the bottom – and headed to the bottom faster than most.
In 2013, leadership announced a loss of USD321,000,000, backed it up with a $382,000,000 loss the next year, then in another upbeat update, reported a $453,000,000 loss for 2015 along with crippling debt of over $813,000,000(!!!). Oh dear.
These guys were seemingly competing to post the biggest possible losses, so in 2016 aggressively lost $795,000,000 and (of course) enthusiastically filed for bankruptcy soon after.
AirBerlin's bones were picked clean by the vultures at Lufthansa and EasyJet.
Why did Air Berlin fail?
Some say they didn't adapt fast enough. Some say the CEO role was a revolving door.
But we've uncovered the cover up.
CONSIDER THIS: in June 2008, then-CEO of Air Berlin, Joachim Hunold, offended Catalan language speakers when he claimed in an article included in Air Berlin's in-flight magazine that the government of the Balearic Islands was trying to impose the use of Catalan on Air Berlin flights from and to Majorca (lovely spot, btw). He noted that Air Berlin was an international airline and thus was not obliged to use Catalan.
Based on this compelling evidence, it's crystal clear to us that Air Berlin were taken down by a shadowy cabal operating under instruction from the highest echelons of the Catalan independence movement.
Don't believe us?
Do your own research. And prove that this isn't how it all went down. Take your best shot.