Condor Expands US Network

The network growth increases competition with Lufthansa on US routes from Frankfurt.

Credit: Condor Airlines

German leisure airline Condor is expanding its footprint in the US market this summer, heightening competition with Lufthansa.

The carrier’s summer 2022 schedule will connect Frankfurt (FRA) nonstop with 12 US destinations, including the launch of regular scheduled flights to Boston (BOS), Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO).

CEO Ralf Teckentrup said there is significant pent-up demand for travel between Germany and North America given the travel restrictions that have been in place for the last two summers.

Condor previously focused on points like Anchorage (ANC), Fairbanks (FAI) and Minneapolis/St Paul (MSP in the US, which are not served by Germany’s flag-carrier Lufthansa. However, the latest expansion will see the two airlines go head-to-head on several transatlantic city pairs.

According to data provided by OAG Schedules Analyser, Condor and Lufthansa will compete on five Frankfurt-US markets this summer, while Condor will also rival Lufthansa’s LCC subsidiary Eurowings Discover on two more.

The direct competition with Lufthansa will come on routes from Frankfurt to Boston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Seattle (SEA), and with Eurowings Discover from Frankfurt to Anchorage and Las Vegas (LAS).

Condor began flying to New York John F Kennedy (JFK) in November 2021 and intends to offer five flights per week this summer. The three other new destinations—Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco—will each be served three times per week.

The network expansion comes just days after Germany’s anti-trust authority Bundeskartellamt raised serious concerns over Lufthansa’s decision to terminate a long-standing special pro-rate agreement with Condor that will likely lead it to force continuation of the arrangement.

Lufthansa has been feeding Condor’s long-haul routes for decades but opted to terminate the deal in early 2021. This prompted Condor to complain that Lufthansa had abused its market dominance.

After Bundeskartellamt prepared to move against the termination, Lufthansa extended the deal to May 10, 2022.

However, on Feb. 8, the cartel office said its preliminary examination had found that sufficient competition would only be possible if Lufthansa continues to provide feed for Condor.

“Our preliminary assessment is that the Lufthansa Group has a dominant position on the feeder flights market which mainly connects German airports to Condor’s long-haul network,” Bundeskartellamt President Andreas Mundt said.

“No other carrier operates more than just a few individual feeder flights to the major German hubs Frankfurt, Munich and Dusseldorf. Lufthansa is therefore subject to abuse control under competition law and has to comply with special obligations.

“We have concerns regarding the admissibility of the termination of its cooperation with Condor insofar as this could lead to an unfair impediment to competition on the downstream markets for long-haul flights.”

Lufthansa said it had received the Bundeskartellamt’s draft decision and would make a “comprehensive statement” at a later date.