The days in which Ryanair, Wizz Air and other low-cost carriers landed at Luebeck Airport are over. Once these airlines migrated their traffic to Hamburg, Frankfurt or Berlin the northern German airport was forced into a do or die situation. Meanwhile the shivering is over.
After a drought lasting exactly seven years, Luebeck Airport is seeing light at the end of a dark tunnel. This is substantiated by a promising concept presented by the management, aimed at getting the location on the map again by offering passenger services and – to a smaller degree – cargo transports.
Copenhagen might be the first destination
If plans go well, the traditional Hanseatic City of Luebeck, will welcome a home carrier: Luebeck Air. “Future operator of the intended flights is our Danish partner Alsie Express, which is a reputable brand in European regional aviation,” states managing director Professor Juergen Friedel of Luebeck Airport.
As things stand, the initial scheduled flight will take to the air at the end of March 2020, thus at the beginning of next year’s summer schedule. Probably the first route operated by the newcomer will be Luebeck-Copenhagen, linking both cities located on the western shores of the Baltic Sea. An attractive route that promises substantial demand by business and leisure travelers alike but also offers transport options for urgent cargo consignments.
Both passengers and cargo would benefit
Danish Alsie Express and their parent Air Alsie operate a fleet of Falcon jetliners tailored for business travelers and ATR 72 twin-engine turboprops, offering 70 seats and capable of carrying 7.5 tons of cargo in their holds. “Most likely it will be one or two ATR 72-500s Luebeck Air will first utilize,” Mr Friedel indicates.
Which specific routes his management thinks of is still undisclosed. However, it is no secret that much will depend on the specific mobility demands of two world-renowned enterprises that are headquartered in Luebeck. These are Euroimmun, a leading provider of Medical Laboratory Diagnostics and Draeger, a global manufacturer and supplier of high-tech, medical and safety products.
To run their businesses smoothly both are dependent on fast air connectivity, for both passengers and – to a lesser degree – time-critical cargo supplies.
Without Mr Stoecker Luebeck Airport would be a thing of the past
A facilitative role is played by Euroimmun because the company’s founder and former owner Winfried Stoecker is also proprietor of Luebeck Airport. It can be assumed that many of the company’s roughly 3,000 staff will utilize the air services once scheduled flights have commenced. Also, a number of products coming from Euroimmun’s laboratories need fast air transportation, adding to the upcoming business specter offered by Mr Friedel and his management.
When Stoecker, a clinical immunologist, purchased the airport from the city in 2016, the place was in a hopeless situation. This, because investors from Australia, China and Egypt had failed consecutively to attract sufficient airlines to cover expenses and run the airport profitably. Hence, all three operators filed for insolvency one after another.
Rhein-Neckar Air is a role model
Now times have changed, applauded by the majority of the city’s inhabitants. In a public petition initiated by anti-airport activists, 67 percent of the dwellers voted in favour of maintaining and reviving the airport. A strong voice heard with pleasure by millionaire Stoecker.
Supported by Luebeck’s chamber of commerce, the City Council and the local economy, entrepreneur Stoecker and the airport’s managing director Juergen Friedel decided to take Rhein-Neckar Air as their model for success. The regional carrier was founded in 2013 in Mannheim, southwest Germany, on the initiative of well-known international companies, such as SAP for instance, one of the world’s leading software providers, to manage business operations and customer relations.
Another supporter is Heidelberg Cement, the world's number two cement producer, employing 60,000 staff.
These big players together with the local industry concluded that jammed Frankfurt Airport might not be the best solution for their mobility requests. A small airline offering both scheduled traffic and charter options on demand might be a feasible alternative for their specific needs, they concluded. Hence, Rhein-Neckar Air was born.
No more low-cost traffic
Asked about Luebeck’s medium-term vision, Mr Friedel mentions 4 pillars on which his airport’s business model is based:
- Business aviation, supporting the travel requests of local companies such as Euroimmun, Draeger and others;
- Incoming and outgoing leisure traffic;
- Attracting aviation related companies to settle within the airport’s perimiter;
- The air freight segment, particularly express and special products such as medical preparations, but also tools and spare parts for the shipping industry.
The airport’s managing director leaves no doubt that the low-cost era in Luebeck is definitely over. “In our development strategy, we focus on quality and not mass,” he concludes.