Condor, legally incorporated as Condor Flugdienst GmbH, is a German leisure airline based in Frankfurt. It operates scheduled flights to leisure destinations in the Mediterranean, Asia, Africa, North America, South America, and the Caribbean. Its main base is at Frankfurt Airport from which most of its long-haul flights depart; secondary bases for Mediterranean flights are Munich Airport which also features long-haul flights, Hamburg Airport, Hannover Airport, Düsseldorf Airport, Stuttgart Airport, and Leipzig/Halle Airport.
|Founded||21 December 1955|
|Frequent-flyer program||Miles & More|
|Company slogan||'Wir lieben fliegen.' (German) |
'Born to fly.' (English)
|Parent company||Thomas Cook Group|
|Key people||Ralf Teckentrup, CEO|
Condor is Germany's second-largest commercial airline based on fleet size and passengers flown. It is headquartered at Gateway Gardens near Frankfurt Airport. It is a subsidiary of the British Thomas Cook Group, but still partners with its former parent Lufthansa through the use of the Lufthansa Group's Miles & More program, its business lounges at Frankfurt Airport, and as interline partners.
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1955–1959: The beginningsEdit
The company was founded on 21 December 1955 as Deutsche Flugdienst GmbH, its ownership being split between Norddeutscher Lloyd (27.75%), Hamburg America Line (27.75%), Deutsche Lufthansa (26%), and Deutsche Bundesbahn (18.5%). The initial fleet of three 36-passenger Vickers VC.1 Viking aircraft was based at Frankfurt Airport, the Lufthansa hub. Scheduled flight operations were launched on 29 March 1956 with a pilgrimage flight to Israel. Further destinations flown to during the first year were Majorca and Tenerife. In 1959, Lufthansa took over 95.5% of the stake, thus creating its first postwar subsidiary. Most condor flight is Group of the Condor Germany.
In 1961, Deutsche Flugdienst took over its rival Condor-Luftreederei (which had been founded in 1957 by Oetker), subsequently changing its name to Condor Flugdienst GmbH, thus reintroducing the "Condor" name with Lufthansa (there was a Brazilian subsidiary named Syndicato Condor between 1928 and 1943). In 1962, Condor Flugdienst transported about 32,000 passengers (18,400 of which to and from Majorca) and had a market share of 63.3% in the German leisure air travel. In 1966, the longhaul business was launched, with flights to Thailand, Ceylon, Kenya, and the Dominican Republic.
1970–1979: Leading leisure airlineEdit
In 1971, Condor became the world's first leisure airline to add the Boeing 747 (at that time the largest passenger aircraft) to its fleet. In 1973, the airline generated a revenue of 291 million DM (then equivalent to US$90.8 million), surpassing all other leisure airlines worldwide. At that time, the Condor fleet consisted of two Boeing 747-200s, two 707s, and ten 727s.
During this period, the Condor Individuell system was launched, allowing direct flight bookings by passengers without the need of a travel agency. In 1989, SunExpress was founded as a joint venture between Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines, aiming at leisure traffic between Germany and Turkey.
Condor added Boeing 757 and Boeing 767 jets to its fleet, operated from the production workshop of Südflug, a 100% subsidiary of Condor. In 1991, as the first leisure carrier, Condor introduced a separate and more comfortable Comfort Class (Business Class) to its Boeing 767 long-haul fleet. The Südflug subsidiary was integrated into Condor in autumn 1992. In 1995, Condor expanded its shareholdings: Alpha Holding GmbH (30%), Kreutzer Touristik GmbH (37.5%), Fischer Reisen GmbH (100%) and Öger Tours GmbH, with 10%, became part of the Condor Tourism Group. Condor also acquired Lufthansa’s 40% holding in the Turkish charter airline SunExpress, which was later increased to 50%. In 1996, commemorating the 40th birthday of the airline, US painter James Rizzi created a special paint scheme which was applied to one of Condor's Boeing 757s. With an order for 12 aircraft, the airline became the launch customer of the enlarged Boeing 757-300. In 1998, Condor Flugdienst GmbH was owned by C&N Touristic AG (later Thomas Cook AG). With the merger of Condor Flugdienst GmbH and NUR Touristic GmbH, Deutsche Lufthansa AG and KarstadtQuelle AG created the basis for an integrated tourism group with a European format – both partners have a 50% holding in the company. In 1998, Condor Berlin GmbH was founded as a wholly owned subsidiary with headquarters at Berlin Tegel Airport. As with all other German airlines, Condor was not allowed to operate into West Berlin until 1990. It used Airbus A320 aircraft, which had recently been added to the fleet, replacing the Boeing 737 short-haul airliners. In the early 2000s, the Berlin business was moved to Schönefeld Airport.
2000–2009: Transition to Thomas Cook ownershipEdit
From 2000 onwards, the Condor shares held by Lufthansa were gradually acquired by Thomas Cook. The process of transforming Condor from a Lufthansa subsidiary to a part of Thomas Cook (along with Thomas Cook Airlines, Thomas Cook Airlines Belgium and Thomas Cook Airlines Scandinavia began with the rebranding as Thomas Cook powered by Condor on 1 March 2003. A new livery was introduced, featuring the Thomas Cook logo on the aircraft tail and the word "Condor" written in the font used by Thomas Cook Airlines. On 23 January 2004, Condor became part of Thomas Cook AG and returned to the Condor brand name. By December 2006, the remaining Lufthansa shares only amounted to 24.9 percent, so that the last influence (by a blocking minority) was lost.
On 20 September 2007, shortly after having taken over LTU International, Air Berlin announced its intention to acquire Condor in a share swap deal. It was intended to buy the 75.1 percent of Condor shares held by Thomas Cook, with the remaining Lufthansa assets being acquired in 2010. In return, Thomas Cook would take up 29.99 percent of the Air Berlin stock. On 11 September 2008, the plan was abandoned.
On 17 September 2012, the airline signed a codeshare agreement with the Mexican low-cost carrier, Volaris. On 12 March 2013, Condor and the Canadian airline WestJet agreed on an interline partnership which will offer customers connecting flights to/from 17 destinations in Canada. This agreement expands the network of both airlines, allowing passengers to connect beyond each airline's own network.
On 4 February 2013, the Thomas Cook Group announced that Thomas Cook Airlines, Thomas Cook Airlines Belgium, and Condor would be merged into a single operating segment of the Thomas Cook Group. On October 1, 2013 the Thomas Cook Group began presenting itself under a unified brand symbol. The aircraft of the Thomas Cook Group Airlines also had the Sunny Heart added to their tails and were re-painted in the new corporate color scheme grey, white, and yellow. On the aircraft, the Sunny Heart on the tail is meant to symbolize the unification of airline brands within the entire Thomas Cook Group.
Condor refurbished the cabins on all of its Boeing 767-300 long-haul aircraft. All economy class and premium economy class seats were replaced with new seats from ZIM Flugsitz GmbH. Condor kept its successful Premium Economy Class with more legroom and added services. The new Business Class seats (Zodiac Aerospace) offer fully automated, angled-lie-flat seats capable of inclining to an angle of 170 degrees with a bed length of 1.80 metres (5 ft 11 in). The airline added seats in its new Business Class section from 18 to 30 seats on three of its Boeing 767 aircraft. New in-flight entertainment include personal screens for all passengers throughout all three classes of service. Condor will implement the RAVE IFE technology of Zodiac In-flight Entertainment. On 27 June 2014, Condor completed the cabin refurbishment for all of its long-haul Boeing 767 aircraft.
In early 2017 Condor's CEO Ralf Teckentrup introduced a plan to cut operating costs by €40 million, because of the €14 million operating cost loss and the €1.4 billion revenue drop. The passenger numbers also dropped by 6%. Condor had also planned new routes to the United States which were: San Diego, New Orleans, and Pittsburgh – all flights to be operated by the 767-300ER.
In January 2010 the airline held a groundbreaking for a new headquarters complex in Gateway Gardens, a business borough located in Flughafen, Frankfurt, across the Bundesautobahn 3 from Frankfurt Airport. Ralf Teckentrup, the CEO of Condor, said that the new headquarters would place the airline's operations closer to Frankfurt Airport. 380 ground employees will work in the building, and pre-flight briefings for about 2,000 flight attendants will be held in the building. Prior to its redevelopment, the land of Gateway Gardens housed residences of families stationed at a U.S. military base.
Groß & Partner and OFB Projektentwicklung developed the seven-floor facility. The 14,600-square-metre (157,000 sq ft) building is situated between the park and the central plaza, in the "Quartier Mondo" area of Gateway Gardens. It houses Condor's corporate headquarters, a training and education center with a flight simulator, and the airline's flight operations facility. 2,700 square metres (29,000 sq ft) of the facility includes small units rented to other tenants and a café and restaurant on the building's first floor. The building opened in the spring of 2012.
Aircraft maintenance is split between two wholly owned subsidiaries: Condor Technik GmbH (based at Frankfurt Airport with 160 employees) for the medium-long haul Boeing aircraft, and Condor Berlin GmbH (based at Berlin Schönefeld Airport with 80 employees) for the short-medium haul Airbus aircraft.
At the beginning of 1998, Condor founded Condor Berlin GmbH (CIB), a wholly owned subsidiary headquartered in Berlin-Schönefeld. It owned the ICAO-Code CIB and operated on the short and medium haul routes with its Airbus A320-200 until its integration into the parent company on 1 May 2013. The background for a spin-off under its own AOC was at that time above a all more favorable tariff structure in the area of former East Germany. The tariffs get identical except for nuances, the former CEO Ralf Teckentrup said. The original reason for outsourcing was obsolete from then on.
As of January 2019, the Condor fleet consists of the following aircraft:
|Airbus A321-200||5||1||—||—||220||220||Delivery in spring 2019|
|Boeing 757-300||13||2||—||—||275||275||2 to be transferred from Thomas Cook Airlines by February 2019|
Over the years, Condor operated the following aircraft types:
|Airbus A319-100||2011||2011||One leased from Hamburg Airways|
|Boeing 737-800||2014||2015||Leased from SunExpress Deutschland during summer season|
|Boeing 757-200||1990||2006||One Boeing 757-200 (D-ABNF) named "Rizzi Bird", carrying a colorful paint scheme by artist James Rizzi phased out in 2006|
|Douglas DC-8-33||1968||1969||One DC-8 taken over from Südflug by Lufthansa and transferred to Condor|
|McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30||1979||2000|
|Fokker F27 Friendship||1965||?|
|Hawker Siddeley HS-125||?||?|
|Vickers VC.1 Viking||1955||?|
With the refurbishment of its Boeing 767 fleet, Condor changed the name of its upper class cabin from "Comfort Class" to Business Class in 2014. Condor's Business Class is offered on all Boeing 767 aircraft. The seats (Zodiac Aerospace) convert to 170 degrees lie-flat beds with 180 centimetres (71 in) in length and a standard seat pitch (in take off mode) of 60 inches (1,500 mm). The seats include power and USB outlets as well as a 15-inch (380 mm) screen for in-flight entertainment. Condor offers separate Business Class check-in counters at all airports that Condor operates long-haul flights from. Condor operates RAVE inflight entertainment throughout the whole cabin.
Condor operates two different Premium Economy classes. The long-haul version (offered on all Boeing 767) offers regular economy class seats from German manufacturer ZIM with 15 centimetres (5.9 in) more legroom (1 metre (3 ft 3 in) seat pitch), more recline, free access to the in-flight entertainment, and extra service. Condor's Premium Economy Class on short- and medium-haul flights comes with a free middle seat, added services, and free meals.
Condor's long-haul Economy Class is offered on all Boeing 767 aircraft. All seats have a 30-inch (760 mm) seat pitch with a 17-inch (430 mm) width. The middle seats are slightly wider (2-inch (51 mm)) than non-middle seats.
A personal monitor is available at every seat in all classes giving passengers access to roughly 30 movies, more than 50 TV series, 24 radio channels, and hundreds of audio music of all genres. All entertainment content is available to passengers in Business and Premium Economy Class. However, Economy Class passengers have only limited access. They have access to one movie, one TV episode, and the music library.
Accidents and incidentsEdit
- On 17 October 1958, a Deutsche Flugdienst (as the airline was called at that time) Vickers VC.1 Viking (registered D-BELA) on a cargo flight had to carry out a forced landing near Zele in Belgium due to an engine fire. Upon impact, the aircraft caught fire and was destroyed, but all three crew members on board survived.
- On 31 July 1960, a Deutsche Flugdienst Convair CV-240 (registered D-BELU) en route from Frankfurt to Rimini experienced failures in both engines upon approaching Rimini Airport. The pilots had to carry out an emergency landing 1000 metres short of the runway, which resulted in the death of one passenger (out of 30, with additional four crew members on board) and the aircraft being written off.
- On 20 July 1970, a Condor Boeing 737-100 (registered D-ABEL) which was approaching Reus Airport, collided with a privately owned Piper Cherokee light aircraft (registration EC-BRU) near Tarragona, Spain. The Piper subsequently crashed, resulting in the death of the three persons on board. The Condor Boeing suffered only minor damage, and there were no injuries amongst the 95 passengers and 5 crew members.
- On 2 January 1988 at 19:18 local time, Condor Flugdienst Flight 3782, a Boeing 737-200 (registered D-ABHD) on a chartered service from Stuttgart to Izmir, crashed into a hill near Seferihisar whilst approaching Adnan Menderes Airport, killing all 11 passengers and 5 crew members on board. Wrong use of navigation aids and lack of adherence to company procedures especially in respect of crew coordination were given as causes for the accident.
- On 24 June 1992, a Condor Boeing 767-300 (registered D-ABUZ) took a wrong turn after departing Porlamar Airport in Venezuela on a charter flight back to Germany, resulting in an overflight of mountainous terrain at a low altitude. The aircraft hit a TV mast on top of El Copey (with 890 metres, 2,900 feet, the second highest peak on Isla Margarita) with its left wing. The wing was substantially damaged (but could later be repaired), and the pilots managed to return to Porlamar Airport, without any of the 251 passengers and 12 crew members on board being injured.
- On 2 December 2015, a Condor Airbus A321-200, registration D-AIAF, was being towed at Berlin's Schönefeld Airport when the left wing struck a light tower. The tower collapsed and fell on the aircraft tearing open a section of fuselage of the cockpit injuring a technician in the cockpit. The aircraft was repaired and put back into service.
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- Condor and WestJet agree on interline partnership |url=http://www.condor.com/us/fileadmin/dam/pdf/tcf-us/06_The_Company/02_Press/130312_WestJet_engl.pdf%7Caccessdate=12 March 2013|date=12 March 2013
- Reuters: Thomas Cook shakes up airline business. Published online on 5 February 2013.
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