Speaking at an event on May 4 to mark the inaugural flight, Liverpool Airport CEO John Irving told Routes that the new hub connection would provide an economic boost for the city, offering a one-stop link to more than 150 points in the German carrier’s global network.
Service will be four times per week on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays using CRJ900 regional jets. The route will provide 720 two-way seats between Frankfurt and Liverpool.
“It’s massive for Liverpool as we’ve been trying to rebuild our hub connectivity for 10 years since we lost KLM,” Irving said. “To secure Lufthansa has been a long time coming, but it’s been a key part of our strategic plan. A city our size needs a route like this.”
Liverpool has been without a network carrier since KLM ended its Amsterdam (AMS) service in March 2012. Irving said he expects the FRA-LPL route to attract business traffic as the segment of the market recovers, as well as catering for outbound and inbound leisure demand.
“This route means people in the region can travel from Liverpool right across the world with just one-stop,” he added. “It also puts Liverpool within reach of far more destinations.
“With the culture, the football and the many attractions in the city and surrounding area, we expect to see quite a lot of inbound leisure tourism. I think that is part of the reason Lufthansa sees us as the next right move for them.”
Although flights will initially be 4X-weekly, Irving said he hopes the demand will be sufficient for Lufthansa to increase service: “The next stage is to get this route to daily. We want to grow our hub connectivity, as well as our point-to-point routes, to get Liverpool back to where we were in 2019 in terms of traffic.”
Liverpool Airport handled about 5 million passengers in 2019 and Irving expects traffic to recover to about 80% of pre-pandemic levels this year. “That would be a phenomenal achievement after the last two years,” he added.
Data provided by OAG Schedules Analyser shows that LPL is currently served by six carriers, with Ryanair and easyJet accounting for 44.5% and 44.3% of weekly departure seats respectively. Wizz Air and its UK subsidiary have a 6.7% and 1.2% share, while Loganair has 2.6% of the market.
By July, the airport will be linked nonstop to five domestic and 54 international destinations, up from the current total of four domestic and 48 international points. Capacity will also increase from about 47,000 weekly departure seats at present to almost 55,000.
As well as the Lufthansa launch, other new routes opening from Liverpool include easyJet’s flights to Belfast City (BHD) from July 1, and Icelandic startup PLAY’s service from Reykjavik Keflavik (KEF) starting Nov. 4.