airberlin has today established the topbonus frequent flyer program as a separate spin-off company. Etihad Airways has acquired a majority stake of 70% in the new topbonus Limited (Ltd.), while 30% remains with airberlin. The total transaction value is €200 million, which is being financed by an equity injection of €50 million and debt financing of €150 million, provided by HSBC International and Commerzbank. 184 million Euros will flow to airberlin as part of this transaction and will be included in the 2012 annual result for airberlin.
Proceeds improve airberlin annual result
Hartmut Mehdorn, airberlin Chief Executive Officer, said: “This deal helps us to financially restructure our business. The proceeds from the transaction will be included in the 2012 annual result for airberlin and demonstrate the value that we have already created with topbonus and which previously could not be seen or quantified. Consequently, our annual result will improve significantly, as well as our liquidity and equity capital resources. With this new configuration, we expect further accelerated growth in topbonus from which we also stand to profit through our 30% stake in topbonus Limited.”
Expansion of the partnership between airberlin and Etihad Airways
Frequent flyers will benefit most of all from this step. At present, topbonus has over three million participants and more than 120 partners, with the trend growing strongly. In the past two years alone, topbonus has seen annual growth of 14% in the number of participants. Etihad Guest, the frequent flyer program of Etihad Airways, has over 1.8 million participants and 173 partners at present. There are plans to strengthen the existing partnership between Etihad Guests and topbonus to increase the attractiveness of the program.
Hartmut Mehdorn said: “By spinning off our frequent flyer program, we lay the cornerstone for tapping the full potential of this business area and taking topbonus to a new level. These opportunities will be realised together with our strategic partner, Etihad Airways, for the benefit of both organisations. This is very good news for our guests and for topbonus participants to whom we can offer numerous new and attractive benefits. It is also very good for airberlin and Etihad Airways. We are determined to continue to use our synergies in the future and strengthen our cooperation.”
James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ President and Chief Executive Officer, said: “This new investment creates an excellent growth opportunity for us to capitalise on the loyalty management market, while offering a greater range of benefits to passengers from multiple partner airlines.
“The acquisition of a stake in the new topbonus company is part of our strategic evolution to create a ‘house of brands’ loyalty management company, with global scale.
"The loyalty program sector is a faster growing and higher margin business than the airline industry. This new approach allows both our companies to reap greater rewards together, with opportunities to generate sustained profits from our loyalty programs.
"The new company also provides an attractive vehicle for other airlines looking to generate further revenues from the fast-growing loyalty management sector."
First step towards a global loyalty program
Etihad Airways and airberlin have already linked their frequent flyer programs in January 2012. Since then, guests have been able to collect topbonus miles from both airlines. The new cooperation arrangements will offer new benefits to participants in both programs. The plan is to convert topbonus miles to cash as well which can be used at over 30 million locations worldwide. In the future, topbonus participants will have many new options for redeeming their miles. The new company has its formal headquarters in Great Britain, and will look after participants and partners from the Berlin office.