If the pandemic has had anything positive impact, it is that airlines have had a much more creative attitude to route development. Many carriers have launched ‘unexpected’ routes, including Lufthansa, with St Louis from Frankfurt and San Diego from Munich among those announced today.
Lufthansa to St Louis
St Louis is getting a non-stop to mainland Europe in the form of Lufthansa to Frankfurt, the airline’s website indicates. It will be by Lufthansa itself and not leisure-driven Eurowings Discovery. The new route will begin on June 1st and will operate three-weekly using 255-seat A330-300s. The schedule is as follows (all times are local):
- LH448: Frankfurt-St Louis, 10:45-13:45
- LH449: St Louis-Frankfurt: 15:45-07:45+1 the next day
The Missouri airport, probably best known as the hub of TWA, last had continental European service (to Paris CDG) 20 years ago, ending in September 2001. Although not to continental Europe, TWA’s long-standing Gatwick service was replaced by American Airlines and ran between January 2002 and October 2003, according to the DOT’s T-100 dataset. Fifteen years later, WOW operated Keflavik to St Louis for nine months from May 2018.
The new Lufthansa announcement joins Liverpool, Rennes, and Stavanger from Frankfurt. From Lufthansa’s second-largest hub of Munich, Bergen, Billund, Brindisi (by regional subsidiary Air Dolomiti), Kalamata, Menorca, Rio de Janeiro, San Diego, and Varna will be served.
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Why St Louis?
Despite significant financial incentives totaling almost $6 million, Frankfurt to St Louis seems an odd addition on the face of it. However, booking data shows that, in the year to September 2019, the German city was the second-largest European market from St Louis after (you’ve guessed it) London.
Although Frankfurt had only about 15,000 passengers, a low point-to-point (P2P) volume for a long-haul route, it had higher traffic than Paris. Frankfurt’s P2P demand probably more than double from non-stop service and strong promotions.
Of course, Frankfurt will also enable significant onward connectivity, with most of Europe available with one stop. It’ll help Lufthansa to capture some of the ~260,000 passengers that flew between St Louis and Europe in this period. Not just business traffic as it recovers, but also significant leisure and ethnic demand. There are around 60,000 Bosnians in St Louis alone.
Why not London?
With ~39,000 P2P passengers, so more than double Frankfurt’s, and a strong average one-way fare of $1,080, London would seem the obvious choice, relatively speaking. It would also be well-placed for onward mainland Europe connectivity.
British Airways has put on sale Pittsburgh and Portland, the latter brand-new for the carrier as its inauguration in summer 2020 was postponed. Meanwhile, BA seems keen on Indianapolis, although don’t hold your breath for 2022.
What do you make of the route announcements? Where in the US would you like Lufthansa to serve next? Share your thoughts in the comments.