Berlin Brief: US visits up in 2012; airberlin adds new Chicago flight
The American love affair with Berlin seems to be growing stronger, as US travelers continue to visit the German capital in record numbers. Despite a sluggish global economy and a strong euro, Berlin is thriving as a tourist destination, attracting big crowds in 2011 and 2012.
Last year the city attracted nearly 10 million visitors from around the world, of which more than 267,000 were American. While that means US visitors represented only about 2.6% of the total city visits, it shows a modest improvement from the previous year. Things are even stronger in the first eight months of 2012, with a near 17% increase in American tourists.
airberlin adds Chicago to Berlin flights
With more Americans heading to Germany’s capital, today’s announcement by airberlin that the airline will increase direct flights between the US and Germany in 2013 is welcome news. Beginning March 23, 2013, the airline plans to offer direct Chicago – Berlin flights five times weekly, giving residents and those flying through the Windy City a new option for getting to Europe.
Furthermore, the airline, Germany’s second largest behind Lufthansa, announced an expanded US route network for next summer. Airberlin will fly a total of 44 non-stop flights per week from one of its five US gateways (JFK, Chicago, Miami, Fort Myers and LA) to Germany (either Berlin or Dusseldorf). From either German city, travelers can continue to dozens of other destinations in Europe and the Middle East on airberlin.
What effect will these new routes have on ticket prices for American and German passengers? Here at Cheapo HQ, we’re obviously hoping that increased competition will drive ticket prices down. Expensive flights have been, in our humble opinion, the most significant barrier to American budget travelers heading to Europe. We’re hopeful anytime we hear about more flights.
BER worth the wait?
In the meantime, Berlin continues to plan for the opening of Berlin Brandenburg Airport, now slated to open its runways on October 27, 2013. Not only will the airport be a more aesthetically pleasing and streamlined experience than Tegel (insert joke here), but it will boast its own high-speed rail station directly under the main terminal.
Arriving passengers will be able to head downstairs, hop on an ICE train and arrive in Hamburg 90 minutes later. (Not to mention those Hamburg residents who will be able to easily catch a flight in Berlin.)
We’re hoping this is one airport worth waiting for.