What Happened To Germania?

Germany is an economic powerhouse with a convenient location in the heart of Europe. As such, it is unsurprising that it is home to a wide variety of airlines. These range from full-service airlines like flag carrier Lufthansa to leisure-focused charter carriers such as Condor. Former Berlin-based carrier Germania operated a mix of scheduled and charter flights before it ceased operations in 2019. Let’s take a look at the history of this airline.

Germania Airbus A319 Getty
Germania’s fleet included 19 Airbus A319s at the time of its shutdown. Photo: Getty Images

Formed under a different name

When Germania came into existence, it was initially known as Special Air Transport (SAT). The then Cologne-based carrier commenced operations in September 1978. However, just over eight years later, in June 1986, it rebranded as Germania. Germania was the old Latin name for the region of northern Europe inhabited by Germanic tribes during the Roman era.

In its early years, Germania became an established charter operator offering competitively-priced services to tour operators. The Berlin Wall fell in November 1989, and East and West Germany were officially reunited as a single country 11 months later. This also saw the German capital changed from Bonn to Berlin. Correspondingly, Germania relocated its headquarters to the now-closed Berlin Tegel Airport in 1992.

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Germania Boeing 737
Germania’s historic fleet included two 737 variants. Photo: Clemens Vasters via Wikimedia Commons

Having established itself as exclusively a charter operator since its inception in 1978, the turn of the century saw Germania add another string to its bow. In November 2001, the airline launched its first scheduled services, connecting Berlin and Frankfurt for €99 ($120) each way. In addition to its growing domestic network, Germania’s scheduled flights also served foreign leisure destinations, such as Palma de Mallorca, Spain.

What aircraft did Germania operate?

Over the years, Germania operated a diverse fleet of single-aisle aircraft to various European, Middle Eastern, and North African destinations. During the time that it was known as SAT, its fleet included both turboprops and jetliners. Indeed, its formative years saw the Fokker F-27 ‘Friendship’ line up alongside the Sud Aviation SE 210 ‘Caravelle.’ It also flew two Boeing 727-100 trijets during this period.

After rebranding as Germania, the airline also took on the Boeing 737-300. According to Planespotters.net, it flew 18 examples of this ‘737 Classic’ series design from 1987 until 2011. After the turn of the century, Germania also operated the rear-engined Fokker 100 for a five-year spell spanning from 2003 to 2008.

Germania Fokker 100
Germania operated 19 Fokker 100 aircraft over the years. Photo: Simon Butler via Flickr

At the time of Germania’s shutdown, the Airbus A319-100 (19 examples) dominated its 30-aircraft fleet. Its remaining 11 planes consisted of six A321-200s and five Boeing 737-700s. It also had an outstanding order for 25 Airbus A320neo aircraft. These next-generation planes would have been delivered from 2020, were it not for Germania’s collapse.

The end of an era

2018 saw Germania celebrate 40 years since being founded as SAT in April 1978. However, this was also a year in which the airline suffered hefty losses. This came after having already experienced financial difficulties in the preceding years. As such, its owners began to look for new buyers, but, unfortunately, it was too late.

Shortly after delaying paying its January salaries, the airline ceased operations overnight on February 4th, 2019. It declared bankruptcy the following day, with its final flight from Fuerteventura having landed in Nuremberg on February 5th at 01:11 local time.

Chair Airlines Airbus A319
The carrier’s Swiss subsidiary, Germania Flug, rebranded as Chair Airlines in 2019 following its collapse.   Photo: Marco Verch via Flickr

Interestingly, its Swiss subsidiary was not affected by the collapse. This company was known as Germania Flug, but rebranded as Chair Airlines in the wake of Germania’s shutdown. It remains operational today, with a small fleet of two Airbus A319s.

Did you ever fly with Germania? If so, when did you do so, and where did your journey take you? let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!