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Over the last few months, a couple of notable airlines have made news by declaring bankruptcy (Alitalia) or getting dangerously close to bankruptcy (South African Airways). Tuesday, we learned that yet another airline is on the brink: Air Berlin. The German carrier’s bankruptcy comes after the cash-strapped Air Berlin was denied additional funding by part-owner Etihad Airways, which provided 250 million euros (US$294 million) to keep the airline afloat just a few months ago.
In order to keep operations going in the short run, the German government quickly announced that it would be providing a loan of 150 million euros (US$176 million). This funding is expected to keep the airline operating for three months. So, you’re going to want to book a trip soon, especially if you want to take advantage of the Amex Offer of 20,000 Membership Rewards for spending $1,000 with Air Berlin.
We’ve known for a while that Air Berlin wasn’t doing well. It has struggled to differentiate itself in a crowded aviation industry. Would it try to cut costs and structure as a low-cost carrier to avoid competing head-to-head with Germany’s flag carrier Lufthansa? Or, would it act as a full-service carrier as a fellow member of the Oneworld alliance? Its identity struggle has persisted for years.
This marks another black-eye for Etihad Airways. The Abu Dhabi-based carrier has invested heavily in two money-losing European airlines, with a 49% stake in Alitalia and 29% in Air Berlin. These two cash-draining mistakes are a large part of the reason that Etihad’s former CEO James Hogan no longer holds his position at the helm of the Middle Eastern airline.
There’s no word yet on what the airline’s bankruptcy will mean for the Air Berlin TopBonus mileage program. Currently, the program is in the midst of a devaluation — with sweet spots open for flights booked until the end of August. For now, though, hold off on booking Air Berlin flights for departures beyond November.
With some great bonus categories, the American Express Gold Card has a lot going for it. The card offers 4x points at US restaurants, at US supermarkets (up to $25,000; then 1x), and 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or through amextravel.com. It is currently offering a welcome bonus of 35,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 in the first three months.
- Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months.
- Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. restaurants. Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X).
- Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
- Earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with The Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Shake Shack, and Ruth's Chris Steak House. This is an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.
- $100 Airline Fee Credit: up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year for incidental fees at one selected qualifying airline.
- Choose to carry a balance with interest on eligible charges of $100 or more.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- Annual Fee is $250.
- Terms apply.
- See Rates & Fees