(Corrects to remove analyst’s comment with incorrect statement that Air Berlin does not fly into American Airline hubs)
FRANKFURT, July 27 (Reuters) - Air Berlin AB1.DE expects to start flying as part of the Oneworld alliance of airlines in early 2012 in a move analysts said would bolster its position against German flagship carrier Lufthansa (LHAG.DE)
In a first step, Air Berlin has entered code-sharing agreements with Oneworld members American Airlines AMR.N and Finnair (FIA1S.HE).
Bilateral agreements with British Airways BAY.L and Iberia IBLA.MC will follow, Air Berlin said on Tuesday.
Joining the Oneworld alliance would allow Air Berlin to share pricing, scheduling and other information within the alliance.
“Strategically, Air Berlin should emerge as a valuable continental/eastern European feeder carrier for the Oneworld alliance, with a lucrative airport base,” UniCredit analyst Uwe Weinreich said.
He estimates joining Oneworld could add as much as 50 million euros to Air Berlin’s annual earnings from 2012.
Oneworld has 13 member airlines including British Airways, Japan Airlines (JAL) JALFQ.PK and Australia’s Qantas (QAN.AX).
Analysts cautioned, though, that any initial earnings impact from Oneworld entry would be limited. (Reporting by Maria Sheahan; editing by Simon Jessop) (firstname.lastname@example.org; +49 69 7565 1286; Reuters Messaging: email@example.com))