Qantas will gain another partner airline this week when Germany's airberlin joins the oneworld alliance.
Airberlin is Germany's second largest airline after Lufthansa, and Australian travellers are now able to earn Qantas Frequent Flyer miles and status credits when flying on airberlin.
Airberlin's new hub will be at Berlin's new Brandenburg Airport, which opens on June 3 and is located just 18 kilometres south of central Berlin, providing easy access into the German capital.
While "most people see Air Berlin as technically a low-cost carrier they’ve grown out of that and they now describe themselves as a ‘hybrid carrier’ with lower fares than Lufthansa but still offering high quality” oneworld exec Michael Blunt told Australian Business Traveller.
Airberlin is currently refitting its business class from old-school recliners to angled lie-flat seats over the next few months.
Here's the recliner option, which will be disappearing:
The new airberlin business class is a 170cm angled lie-flat seat, similar to what you'll find on many airlines' regional business class -- Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Qantas' first-generation Skybed, and so on.
While oneworld has three airlines in Europe, for example, each of these – British Airways, Finnair and Spain’s Iberia – is based on the edge of Europe.
“Air Berlin gives us a fantastic network right in the centre of Europe and it connects all those points together, so for Australians its going to be fantastic” oneworld's Blunt enthuses.
Qantas has nixed reports that it will shortly abandon its flights to Frankfurt (via Singapore) in favour of Berlin Brandenburg, however, with a Qantas spokesman telling Australian Business Traveller "I can confirm that we have no plans to introduce flights to Berlin."