Regional airline Loganair has previously operated to a couple of different German cities. But almost as quickly as they were added to the schedules, they were quietly removed. Now, it seems the carrier will never return to Deutschland. Here’s why.
Loganair shuns German cities
Scotland’s airline, Loganair, operates a fairly comprehensive network around the UK and Ireland. It travels as far north in Norway as Tromso and touches down in other parts of Scandinavia too. But despite a couple of destinations being added in the last year, it doesn’t fly to Germany. According to the CEO, it probably never will.
Dusseldorf was suspended in mid-March, less than a year after it began. Hanover was added in December 2019 as a route for this summer, but now looks like it won’t go ahead. In an interview for Anna.aero, CEO of the airline, Jonathan Hinkles, explained why the airline is less than keen to ever fly into Germany again.
“Over the last year or so, we’ve been into a number of markets. And I think we’ve learned quite a lot about ourselves and what works and what won’t for us. As part of the network re-planning that we’ve done through the pandemic, we’ve actually come out of a couple of northern European markets, particularly in Germany.
“It’s not just a question of whether our aircraft will work there, but you’ve got a tremendously high-cost environment there. You’ve got a low yield environment there. You’ve got a whole bunch of regulatory hassle.
“Because anytime you have a flight delay in Germany, it’s like you’ve chopped down the whole Black Forest with the amount of EU 261 claims that are coming after.”
European airlines have been increasingly vocal on the EU261 legislation and its impact on carriers’ profitability. Some have even said that it could be held responsible for some of the airline bankruptcies we’ve seen in recent years. And it seems the Germans are keener than most to get their claims in for a late flight.
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A damaged market
It’s not just Loganair that has given up on Germany. Although Wizz Air maintains a network to a number of German cities, it pulled out of Frankfurt, citing high airport costs and market dominance by the Lufthansa group. Although Lufthansa has had to give up some slots as part of its €9bn ($9.8bn) bailout deal, Wizz still sees a monopoly at FRA, and won’t go back while the market remains like this.
Hinkles goes a step further, branding the German aviation market ‘damaged’ and calling out the huge support being given to the home-grown airline as reasons never to return. He said,
“We have to start to have to say, do we actually want to do this as a business for the rewards that are there? As a market, it is fundamentally damaged, in the fact that the main operators there have just had some absolutely eye-watering levels of support.
“The structure of that market isn’t going to change, so it’s a question of us saying actually do we really want to go through this level of hassle running a business for the reward that we earn out of it. I’m surprised that as many [airlines] in the market in Germany are sticking with it under those conditions.”
It’s clearly a tough market for a niche airline like Loganair to make work, so it makes sense for it to avoid getting into a tussle and focus instead on those markets when it can profit.
Where is Loganair’s focus?
With Germany out of the picture, where could we see Loganair next? Hinkles spoke about Ireland in a post-COVID world, which remains a possibility for expansion. However, in the short term, his target remains the lucrative markets of Scandinavia. He said,
“We’re finding Scandinavia, Denmark, Norway … those markets have actually worked well for us, and we see a good sustainable level in there. The yield environment is stronger, and, actually, the sectors are shorter. You tend to find that the average fares on the service into Norway are very similar to those of an average point in Germany, but we’re doing half an hour’s less flying each way to get there. So it does really make a difference to the economics.
“I see as concentrating on the UK Scandinavia and Ireland more as our focus points going forward from here.”
Were you sad to see Loganair drop Germany? Would you like to see it return? Let us know in the comments.