What Happened To Charter Carrier Hamburg Airways?

Hamburg Airways was founded in 2010 by Managing Director and CEO Sergej Fieger following the collapse of charter airline Hamburg International Luftverkehrsgesellschaft mbH & Co. Betriebs KG. Hamburg International filed for bankruptcy in October 2010 after several tour operators revoked their contracts with the airline. Hamburg Airways looked to fill the void with the certainty that the German tour market needed another airline to cater to tourists. Hamburg Airways began operations in March 2011 with its first flight on March 28.

D-AHHC_A320-214_Hamburg_Aws_DUS_23JUL12_(7430357414)
Hamburg Airways was founded in 2010. Photo: Ken Fielding via Wikipedia

Based in Germany’s second-largest city at Hamburg Airport (HAM), Hamburg Airways operated scheduled charter flights for German tour operators and ad hoc charters and sub-services. During the summer of 2011, Hamburg Airways also flew an additional Airbus A319 at the bequest of Frankfurt Airport (FRA)-based German charter airline Condor. Established in 1955, Condor Flugdienst GmbH is the second largest German airline after national flag carrier Lufthansa.

Hamburg Airways flew from three German airports

Gradually, Hamburg Airways expanded its operations to include tourist charter flights to Eurasia, the Middle East and Africa, not just from Hamburg but other airports too. Düsseldorf Airport (DUS) and Hannover Airport (HAJ) also became bases for the small charter airline as it looked to grow.

Sadly the charter operator business declined, and the airline went into the red, with the last available figures showing Hamburg Airways losing 10.8 million euros in 2012. Unable to recover from the downturn in business, the German aviation authorities ( Luftfahrt-Bundesamt ) suspended Hamburg Airways air operator’s certificate (AOC) in 2014.

Three Airbus A320-200s went to Allegiant Airlines

The airline immediately ceased flying and returned all of its leased aircraft to the lessors. At the time, they said they hoped to be flying again in 2015. In 2015 Hamburg Airways used German bankruptcy laws to file for temporary insolvency (reorganization) to find new investors. Still, no one stepped forward with the money the airline needed to resume operations.

Hamburg Airways
Hamburg Airways operated charter flights from HAM, DUS, and HAJ. Photo: Björn Strey via Wikipedia

Three of the Airbus A320-200s that Hamburg Airways owned, registrations D-AHHH, D-AHHD, and D-AHHG, were transferred to Düsseldorf Airport (DUS) for storage. Later they were sent to Pemco World Air Services at Tampa International Airport (TPA) to be overhauled. Once the maintenance was completed, they entered service with Las Vegas-based ultra-low-cost carrier Allegiant Airlines.

According to aviation statistics and data website ch-aviation Hamburg Airways’ fleet consisted of eight of the following aircraft:

3 x Airbus A319-100s
5 x Airbus A320-200s

Why do airlines fail?

As we have seen during the COVID-19 pandemic, the airline industry is vulnerable to exogenous events. Other than low-cost carriers like Ryanair and Wizz Air, who had healthy bank balances, many airlines have needed government help to stay in business.

Hamburg Airways
Hamburg Airways flew Airbus A319s and A320s. Photo: Juergen Lehle via Wikipedia

While some airlines provide a vital service to communities and companies, you cannot say that a charter airline that caters to people going on vacation is essential. The aviation world is littered with airlines that have failed, and with competition forcing them to cut margins, more airlines will eventually go the way of Hamburg Airways.

Did you ever get to fly with Hamburg Airways? If so, please tell us what they were like in the comments.

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