Uh Oh: Lufthansa Will Cut Ties With Condor

Filed Under: Lufthansa, Other Airlines

I’m not surprised by this move, but it also isn’t good news for Condor.

LOT Polish is buying Condor 

Several weeks ago it was announced that Polish Aviation Group (PGL), the parent company of LOT Polish Airlines, will be acquiring Condor Airlines. The deal is expected to close in April 2020, and German anti-trust regulators have even approved the deal.

Condor had been looking for a buyer for quite a while — in September 2019, Thomas Cook ceased operations. Thomas Cook was one of the world’s oldest travel companies, and they were more than just an airline, as their primary business was selling package holidays.

Thomas Cook also owned Germany’s Condor Airlines, which was actually profitable. Fortunately Germany granted Condor a bridge loan, which made a lot of sense, since this was a situation where an airline really only needed a few months to get things in order, and nearly 5,000 jobs were at stake.

Condor’s 767 business class

Condor also has a partnership with Lufthansa

The history between Condor and Lufthansa is interesting:

Condor has had a partnership with Lufthansa for a long time

Condor and Lufthansa have continued to cooperate over the years, even when Lufthansa didn’t have an ownership stake in them:

  • Condor operates long haul flights out of Frankfurt and Munich, and they primarily use Lufthansa flights to provide regional feed
  • Condor and Lufthansa have a reciprocal lounge access agreement
  • Lufthansa Miles & More has allowed members to earn and redeem miles on Condor

Condor business class passengers have had access to Lufthansa lounges

Lufthansa plans to cut ties with Condor

Aerotelegraph writes about what Harry Hohmeister, a member of Lufthansa’s executive board, has said about Lufthansa’s partnership with Condor. Specifically, Lufthansa doesn’t plan on renewing their contract with Condor, in light of the LOT Polish takeover:

“We will not immediately terminate all contracts with Condor. After all, these are also our customers, whom we cannot and do not want to leave alone. But when the contracts expire, they expire.”

Lufthansa plans to let their Condor partnership expire

From Lufthansa’s perspective this (unfortunately) makes sense, and that’s why this has been rumored for a while:

  • Lufthansa is beefing up their Eurowings long haul division, and the airline is launching long haul flights from Frankfurt and Munich, in some cases competing with Condor
  • Lufthansa is providing more value to Condor than the other way around; Lufthansa can probably fill their planes, while Condor may struggle to fill their planes without domestic and regional connectivity

Condor sells itineraries that include travel on Lufthansa

Lufthansa has been staunchly opposed to LOT Polish taking over Condor, in spite of LOT Polish belonging to the Star Alliance, and using Miles & More as their frequent flyer program. I suppose this is a logical extension of that.

Lufthansa is increasing long haul Eurowings service

Bottom line

While we don’t yet know the timeline, Lufthansa plans on letting their agreement with Condor lapse.

I wonder how Condor will handle this situation — they’ve largely relied on Lufthansa for providing feed for their long haul flights out of Frankfurt and Munich. Will Condor start providing domestic service within Germany, or how will they adjust their business model to make this work?

What do you make of Lufthansa cutting ties with Condor?

Comments
  1. “Lufthansa has been staunchly opposed to LOT Polish taking over Lufthansa, in spite of LOT Polish belonging to the Star Alliance, and using Miles & More as their frequent flyer program. I suppose this is a logical extension of that.”

    I think you meant “taking over Condor..”

  2. Couldn’t they just absorb Condor into a combined LOT Polish Airlines brand (i.e. LOT Condor Airlines or Condor Polish Airlines) thereby bring them into the Star Alliance fold and regaining some of that connectivity?

  3. @ Kwiiiq — Given the influence Lufthansa has in Star Alliance, I don’t think this would go over very well, and I’m sure Lufthansa would object even more to that concept.

  4. German arrogance: “how DARE a Polish company take over a German one!” Yeah, I said it because I firmly believe this has a lot to do with LH’s reaction.

  5. Having once lost a flying job following a takeover I feel for the Condor employees and wish them the best. I’m sure last year they were hoping to be absorbed by Lufthansa, which would have provided more job security and probably higher wages. But now? I don’t think the future looks promising for Condor…

  6. I hope at least that this move incentives the Lufthansa Group to expand EW’s network, especially on the intercontinental level. Even if DE and EW have some routes in common, DE’s is considerably more extensive. The one positive from EW is that many of their intercontinental flights are year-round, whereas DE’s tend to be seasonal (especially non-FRA flights).

  7. I thought LOT and LH were good friends, sharing a FFP and all. Apparently not. While I don’t really believe in LOT joining Oneworld any time soon, the alliance would surely need a central European carrier. LOT&Condor, perhaps with Condor starting some schedued services between Europe and FRA/MUC/BER, would be a lottery win for OW.

  8. @stogieguy7 Being German and a travel agent I have yet to meet a single person who opposes this takeover. The media coverage has also been positive as well. Germany and Poland have a pretty good relationship, too.
    So, don’t call this “German arrogance”, but rather Lufthansa being Lufthansa and not being okay with anyone doing well, earning money and expanding their business in any way. Because that’s what they do.

    That being said, I could imagine Easyjet doing some kind of arrangement with Condor for feeder flights. I’d welcome that.

  9. As a regular LOT flyer, they have serious issues with United and Lufthansa providing any feeder service. I think everyone on this board agrees that strategically they would do much better in one world.

  10. A no thrills airline from Britain or Scandinavia to Frankfurt, followed by transatlantic business class return on Condor. This is often cheaper than the same itinerary in premium economy only using Lufthansa. And much better value for money IMO.

  11. @Daniel from Finland Well, it’s well known that LH is very arrogant and doesn’t like any competition. Look what they did with Turkish – when TK was a small, unimportant airline, LH didn’t care. But when they became global player, LH became very aggressive, lower FFP points for flights with TK to laughable minimum etc. Same with LOT – when LO was struggling some time ago, LH was quiet. Now, when LOT is growing like crazy, adding tens of airplanes and destinations every year, LH feels a bit threatened ( without exaggeration of course) and started going heavily against LOT – rumors say LH blocked slots at HKG LOT wanted to acquire, is blocking LOT’s expansion in Asia by having deals with ANA and Air China, and making sure LOT is not having transit deals, some say there are some dirty tricks played with reservation systems on codeshare flights etc. And now Condor. So I wouldn’t call it friendship.

  12. LOT is taking also massive amount of Azul E195s. I would not be surprised if many of them go to Regional Jet (49% owned by LOT) to provide feeder flights to Condor. Actually it may be more profitable for LOT to put some Condor planes in Tallinn (RJ headquarters) and fly to US west coast and Anchorage (why not with extension to Honolulu) from there. This would save a few hours flight time both ways for Condor planes and for most of Condor passengers. Direct flights from Europe to Honolulu would also be very welcomed for all Europeans as otherwise you have to use very crappy US internal flights or expensive flights over Japan. FRA, MUC and WAW slots are very limited, but TLL should have plenty and is the closest Star Alliance base to many US destinations as well as to China, Japan, Korea.

  13. It is high time that LO finally makes the long rumored jump to oneworld! They would be a great fit with the oneworld route map, plugging the gaping hole in Central/Eastern Europe. In addition, it would fit in well with AA’s recent focus in Eastern Europe. They really ought to be in an alliance that needs them and they can benefit from as well.

  14. Hmmm…
    I’m flying condor in J to Italy in September
    Had access to Lufthansa lounge in Frankfurt
    Probably not any more

    Then again, may get quarantined anyway given the issues in northern Italy these days.

  15. LOT made fair purchase and Lufthansa is doing unfair activities. Whatever happen, Condor should be in Star Alliance

  16. @Ben
    „Lufthansa was a shareholder in Condor when they were founded, in 1955“.

    Lufthansa actually owned Condor. It was a part of LH like LSG used to be and was used to offer charter flights etc. Condor staff had the same yellow ID cards (just with Condor on it) and the same travel benefits as LH staff had.

  17. Keep in mind that it’s likely the Polish government is putting up money for this deal (the deal hasn’t been transparent so the details aren’t known). Hence why LH may have a valid reason not to be happy.

  18. Eurowings started to really step on Condor’s turf of late in North America

    New Eurowings flights all will compete directly against Condor

    FRA-ANC
    FRA-YYC
    FRA-PHX

    That’s in addition to LH mainline competing against Condor on FRA-SEA, FRA-YVR & FRA-YYZ

    Yikes

    Wonder if at least Condor’s unique FRA-FAI and FRA-YXY flights will remain unopposed.

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