What Happened To Air Berlin’s Former Fleet?

The bankruptcy of Air Berlin two years ago was headline-making news at the time, but all of the aircraft that the carrier operated have since moved on to pastures new. There are many airlines ready to take on some of the former aircraft of the defunct Air Berlin, so where is the fleet of the former German carrier now in operation?

Air Berlin jetliner.
Air Berlin was Germany’s second-largest carrier. Photo: Felix Gottwald via Wikimedia.

When what was the second-largest airline in Germany after Lufthansa went flat broke, Air Berlin was still operating a sizeable fleet of 144 aircraft. It should be explained that its tenuous financial circumstances meant that Air Berlin had sold off its fleet at the time of its demise, and were reliant on leasing.

Diverse carriers

These jetliners have now been dispersed far and wide, with carriers as diverse as Virgin Atlantic, Eurowings, and the aforementioned Lufthansa all taking delivery of aircraft. Even the Hungarian Air Force has received some of Air Berlin’s former planes.

The overwhelming majority of Air Berlin planes were either A320s or A330s, although the carrier also had a solitary A321 in its possession when it ceased to trade towards the end of 2017. Interestingly enough, although the A321 was successfully delivered to Air Berlin, it was never put into service.

Air Berlin aircraft airport.
Air Berlin’s aircraft have been dispersed to other carriers over recent months. Photo: Rosa-Maria Rinkl via Wikimedia.

Firstly, it should also be mentioned that Air Berlin also had a sub-fleet of Dash 8 Q400s, which were operated by Luftfahrtgesellschaft Walter – a regional German airline, headquartered in Dortmund. All of these have gone to Eurowings, with the low-cost carrier using them for short and lower capacity flights.

easyJet recipient

Much of the A320 fleet that was previously at Air Berlin’s disposal is now at easyJet Europe. Around half of the Air Berlin A320 planes were sent to easyJet, with the majority of the remainder also flying for various European carriers. However, three of the Air Berlin A320 stock are now operational at Indian airline IndiGo.

Air Berlin’s A321 went to LATAM, while five of the airline’s A330s were sent to Malaysia Airlines. The A330 aircraft of Air Berlin had more diverse recipients than the other models. Four were taken up by Virgin Atlantic, while charter and wet-lease operators Wamos and Evelop took on two and one respectively.

Air Berlin aircraft.
Air Berlin collapsed in 2017. Photo: Pexels.

Additionally, Aigle Azure was operating two of the A330s that were previously part of the Air Berlin fleet, but then filed for bankruptcy itself in September. At the time of writing, no airline has picked up these two aircraft, with the latest reports suggesting that they remain in storage.

Air Berlin insolvency

Air Berlin had gone under after Etihad Airways ceased financial support to the carrier that it has previously offered. Air Berlin had entered insolvency in August 2017, despite having announced just three months previously that it would buy Luftfahrtgesellschaft Walter entirely, in which it had a controlling stake since 2009.

The German carrier may have disappeared, but its planes remain very much part of the airline industry.