Loss-making leisure airline Sun Express Deutschland has fallen victim to the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic and will be shut down with the loss of some 1,200 jobs. But its larger Turkish-based parent company Sun Express is not affected.
Sun Express, founded in 1989 and based in Antalya, is a joint venture between Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines that mostly flies between Germany and Turkey using Turkish traffic rights.
Nine years ago, the airline created Sun Express Deutschland to diversify its business model and fly from Germany to other holiday destinations, notably Egypt and Bulgaria. This Frankfurt-based carrier (which flew under the SXD code) expanded to a fleet of 20 planes flying mostly for tour operators but remained a niche player and was unable to move into profit.
Sun Express' commercial director Peter Glade told fvw that 90% of passengers booked on SXD flights will be switched to other airlines and the remaining 10% will receive a rapid refund for their bookings. The flights to Bulgaria (Varna and Burgas) will be taken over by Eurowings while the Egypt routes will not be operated at all this summer.
In terms of Sun Express’ own prospects, Glade underlined that the airline has been "a loyal partner" for tourism in Turkey for 30 years, is a "reliable" partner for travel agents and is used regularly by the large German-Turkish community for flights between the two countries.
"We were, are and remain the number one in Turkey tourism," he declared.
Sun Express CEO Max Kownatzki said in a statement: "The strategically appropriate decision to focus exclusively on our core business is also a bitter one. For all those affected, this is sad news, which was the result of a comprehensive and intensive evaluation of the situation. At the same time, this represents an important step for the future to strengthen the market position of SunExpress during the crisis and to emerge even stronger from the crisis."