How Have Lübeck Airport’s Commercial Flights Changed Over Time?

Lübeck is the second-largest city in the north-German federal state of Schleswig-Holstein. The Hanseatic city on the Baltic coast is home to more than 215,000 inhabitants, as well as a small airport eight kilometers (five miles) to the south. This facility has served a variety of commercial flights over the years, but how has the nature of these changed over time?

Lübeck Airport
Lübeck recently went four years without commercial flights. Photo: Jorges via Wikimedia Commons

Lübeck Airport in a nutshell

Lübeck Airport, like many around the world, began life as a First World War airbase. The end of the conflict led to its closure, although it reopened 15 years later in 1933. This was around the time that the Nazi party came to power in Germany.

At this point, the German Luftwaffe (Air Force) expanded the facility, with the Second World War looming on the horizon at the end of the decade. Following this conflict, the UK’s Royal Air Force (RAF) used Lübeck as a base for its operations in the Berlin Airlift.

Today, the facility has a single 2,102-meter runway, with the headings 07/25. It has good ground transportation links, with half-hourly busses to central Lübeck. There is also a regional railway station on the site, situated on the line between Kiel and Lüneburg.

Ryanair Boeing 737 Lübeck Getty
A Ryanair Boeing 737 on the ground at Lübeck. Photo: Getty Images

Previously a low-cost hub

1990 marked the year of German reunification, when the country’s East and West came together to form a single federal republic. Following this, Lübeck Airport began to establish itself as a viable facility for scheduled commercial services. This growth led to an expansion of the airport, culminating in the re-construction of its arrivals terminal in 1997.

Lübeck was initially something of a magnet for low-cost airlines. For example, the turn of the century saw Irish budget carrier Ryanair begin flying there in 2000. It initially operated services from London Stansted to Lübeck, before adding other destinations. There were even talks of Ryanair opening a base there in 2009, although this never came to fruition.

Wizz Air was another carrier with an established presence in Lübeck, commencing operations to Gdańsk in 2006. However, the airport declared bankruptcy in 2014, prompting Ryanair to focus on Hamburg instead. Wizz initially stuck around, before leaving the airport in 2016. It relocated some routes to Hamburg, but canceled others altogether.

Alsie ATR 72
Air Alsie operates flights for virtual airline Lübeck Air. Photo: Mike Burdett via Flickr

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A new virtual airline

Last summer, after a drought of more than four years, commercial services returned to Lübeck. They did so in the form of Lübeck Air, a virtual airline whose flights are operated by Danish carrier Air Alsie. These services serve both domestic and international destinations, including Bern, Munich, Salzburg (on a seasonal basis), and Stuttgart.

This is an interesting change of direction for the airport. While it had previously attracted low-cost carriers, Lübeck Air offers a more premium experience. Indeed, Simple Flying reported at the time of its launch that its ATR 72s have just 60 seats, making for a spacious affair.

Earlier this month, Lübeck Air announced an exciting expansion that will see it serve several new European destinations in the summer of 2022. To name a selection, these include Bastia (Corsica), Bergen, Dublin, Ibiza, Jersey, Menorca, Olbia (Sardinia), and Reykjavík.

Have you ever flown to/from Lübeck? Are you tempted to try out its new virtual airline? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!