Condor to drop Munich long-haul flights as Air Berlin downscales Tegel hub

Condor’s long-haul B767s will leave Munich next summer.
Condor’s long-haul B767s will leave Munich next summer.

Condor will switch all long-haul flights to Frankfurt next summer while rival Air Berlin will operate fewer intercontinental routes from Berlin.

Thomas Cook Group’s German carrier plans to reduce the number of long-haul flights from Munich in winter 2017/18 and then end them completely as of summer 2018. Instead, it will transfer the dozen or so routes to Frankfurt, its home base. In total, Condor will fly to 37 intercontinental destinations from Frankfurt next summer.

According to a spokesperson, Condor decided to stop the long-haul flights from the country’s second-largest airport as part of its cost saving programme and because demand for the services is greater at Frankfurt.

However, German media speculated that Eurowings’ expansion in Munich, including rival services on similar long-haul routes could be a factor, while Condor might have sealed better conditions from Fraport after Lufthansa announced it would switch five A380s from Frankfurt to Munich.

Meanwhile, Condor is continuing to expand its long-haul flights to North America with the launch of twice-weekly B767 flights from Frankfurt to Phoenix next May. “We are consistently continuing our expansion into North America with Phoenix as a new Condor destination. Now with twelve destinations in the USA and five in Canada, we are very well-positioned here,” said CEO Ralf Teckentrup.

However, the airline will drop its flights to San Diego, which were only launched in May this year. Lufthansa has announced that it will start five weekly flights to the southern Californian destination next spring.

Separately, rival Air Berlin will scale back long-haul flights from Berlin-Tegel Airport and focus them more on its Düsseldorf hub in future. CEO Thomas Winkelmann told journalists this week: “The airport is simply not built to handle long-haul planes.”

Air Berlin recently dropped one of its two daily New York flights. But Winkelmann disclosed: “In the winter 2017/18 schedule only the destinations New York, Miami and Chicago are to be found, and we will further reduce the offering in summer 2018.” Possibly only the New York route might be maintained. Air Berlin will station the long-haul planes at Düsseldorf Airport instead.

The Air Berlin CEO also said that the loss-making airline will downscale its hub operations at Berlin-Tegel for financial reasons. “Connecting flights within Europe, for example from Stockholm via Berlin to Barcelona make no economic sense for us,” he admitted.

However, the former long-serving Lufthansa manager was optimistic that a turnaround of Air Berlin could be achieved, especially through diverse cost reduction measures.

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