LTU International Airways,[1] usually shortened to LTU and legally incorporated as LTU Lufttransport-Unternehmen GmbH, was a German leisure airline headquartered in Düsseldorf. It operated medium and long-haul routes and maintained hubs in Düsseldorf, Munich and at Tegel Airport in Berlin. LTU was acquired by Air Berlin in 2007.[1][2] Use of the LTU brand ceased in 2009, and LTU itself was dissolved by April 2011.[3]

LTU International Airways
IATA ICAO Callsign
FoundedMay 1955 (1955-05)
(as Lufttransport Union)
Commenced operations20 October 1955 (1955-10-20)
Ceased operations13 October 2009 (2009-10-13)
(merged into Air Berlin)
Frequent-flyer program
  • Qualiflyer (1992—2002)
  • LTU Redpoints (2002—2007)
  • topbonus (2007—2009)
Parent companyAir Berlin
HeadquartersDüsseldorf, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
Key peopleHelmut Weixler (CEO)

History edit

Refurbished de Havilland DH.104 Dove in historic livery celebrating LTU's 50th anniversary.
Interior design of LTU's Lockheed L-1011.

Early years edit

LTU was established in May 1955 as Lufttransport Union and started operations in Frankfurt. It adopted its present name in 1956 when it operated charter flights. The initials LTU stand for the German phrase LuftTransport-Unternehmen which translates to "air transport enterprise". LTU had been headquartered in Düsseldorf since 1961.[4] Over the years, LTU rose to become one of the biggest and most renowned German leisure time airlines and operated worldwide charter flights from many German airports, but mainly from its traditional main hub at Düsseldorf.

In 1983, a new subsidiary based in Munich called LTS was founded, which had a similar livery, but with blue instead of red. It was rebranded as LTU Süd in 1987 and got a new livery closer to the familiar red LTU livery. In 1998 LTU Süd was dissolved and completely incorporated into LTU.[5] LTU also operated sister companies in Spain (LTE, 1987 - 2001) and Austria (LTU Austria, 2004 - 2008). Their traditional red and white livery barely changed over the years, thus becoming a recognizable trademark in the German charter flight business.

Also in 1983, LTU was featured in the music video for the Wham! song Club Tropicana featuring George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley as air crew members on holiday in Ibiza.[citation needed]

In 1991, LTU acquired overall four new McDonnell Douglas MD-11 as the first and sole German passenger operator. They handed them over to Swissair in 1998.[6]

The airline was owned by March 2007 by Intro Verwaltungsgesellschaft (55%) and Marbach Beteiligung und Consulting (45%) and had 2,892 employees before the Air Berlin merger.[7]

Takeover by Air Berlin edit

In March 2007, Air Berlin took over LTU, creating the fourth-largest airline group in Europe in terms of traffic. Combined, the airlines carried 22.1 million passengers in 2006. The takeover was driven by the prospect of branching into long-haul operations and the chance to establish a stronger presence at Düsseldorf Airport. For a period, LTU retained its name on its leisure routes, while routes to the United States and China immediately switched to Air Berlin branding.[8]

In May 2007, LTU presented its new livery. It maintained the traditional red and white corporate colors, but refreshed the overall appearance with smoother lines and overall more white. The new design was first applied to LTU's then new twelfth long-haul aircraft, an Airbus A330-200.[9] This livery was later adapted to become the new Air Berlin design.

On 1 May 2007, LTU operated the first Arctic & North Pole Sightseeing Flight from continental Europe in aviation history for their charter contractor Deutsche Polarflug. The flight took 12h 55m and the aircraft, an A330-200 took a group of 283 passengers from Düsseldorf via Norway, Svalbard, The North Pole, Eastern Greenland and Iceland back to Düsseldorf. The flight was filmed for an episode of[10]

LTU opened a third long-haul base besides Düsseldorf and Munich at Berlin Tegel Airport in October 2007,[7] basing a single Airbus A330-200 there to launch flights to Bangkok, Punta Cana and Varadero.[11]

Cessation edit

Air Berlin announced in 2008 that the trademark LTU would no longer be used. All flights were rebranded as Air Berlin.[12] The last known flight under LTU callsign, but already in Air Berlin livery, was on 13 October 2009 from Montreal to Düsseldorf. As of April 2011, the AOC of LTU had been expired and the company itself was dissolved.[3] On 27 October 2017, Air Berlin themselves ceased operations.

Fleet edit

During its existence, LTU operated the following aircraft, including the fleet incorporated into Air Berlin by March 2007:[13][14]

Aircraft Total Introduced Retired Notes
Airbus A320-200 12 1999 2009 Taken over by Air Berlin.
Airbus A321-200 4 2001 2009 Taken over by Air Berlin.
Airbus A330-200 8 2001 2009 Taken over by Air Berlin.
Airbus A330-300 7 1994 2009 Taken over by Air Berlin.
Boeing 747-200 1 1991 1991 Wet-leased from Evergreen International Airlines due to delayed delivery of first McDonnell Douglas MD-11.
Boeing 757-200 14 1984 2004 Operated with subsidiaries LTE and LTS.
Boeing 767-300ER 5 1989 2002 Operated with subsidiary LTS.
Bristol 170 1 1957 1961
de Havilland DH.104 Dove 1 1957 1958 Another example still operating sightseeing flights in historic LTU livery.
Douglas DC-4 2 1958 1960
Fokker F27 Friendship 5 1958 1974 Including two prototypes (PH-FDO/NVF).
Fokker F28 Fellowship 5 1969 1974 Including two prototypes (PH-ZAA/ZAB).
Lockheed L-1011-100 9 1973 1995 One was written off due to fire in 1991 during maintenance.
Lockheed L-1011-200 1 1986 1995 One L-1011-1 was converted to L-1011-200.[15]
Lockheed L-1011-500 3 1980 1996 LTU was the only German airline that operated the L-1011.[16]
McDonnell Douglas MD-11 4 1991 1998 Disposed to Swissair.[6]
Sud Aviation SE 210 Caravelle 10R 5 1967 1979
Sud Aviation SE 210 Caravelle III 2 1965 1968
Vickers VC.1 Viking 5 1955 1963 First aircraft in fleet.
Lockheed L-1011-100 TriStar in typical red roof livery
Airbus A330-200 in the short-lived new color scheme, which later had been adapted by Air Berlin

References edit

  1. ^ a b - LTU International Airways retrieved 4 March 2023
  2. ^ "Kontakt." LTU International. Retrieved on 21 June 2009. "LTU International Airways Flughafen Düsseldorf, Halle 8 D40474 Düsseldorf"
  3. ^ a b "Air Berlin vollendet Integration von LTU". April 2011.
  4. ^ "About LTUKommunikation Wissenschaft Archived 2014-01-22 at the Wayback Machine." Air Berlin. Retrieved on 21 June 2009.
  5. ^ - LTS retrieved 5 March 2023
  6. ^ a b - McDonnell Douglas MD-11 retrieved 5 March 2023
  7. ^ a b "Directory: World Airlines". Flight International. 2007-04-03. p. 107.
  8. ^ "GDS hotel bookings sustain global growth of 25.2% over 2009". Archived from the original on 2013-02-04. Retrieved 2008-03-13.
  9. ^ - "LTU with new design" 8 March 2007
  10. ^ " - Northpole - To the roof of the world -". c. 2010. Retrieved 2019-01-29.
  11. ^ "LTU base". Airliner World. August 2007. p. 9.
  12. ^ „Air Berlin stellt Nutzung der Marke LTU ein“ (German) (29. Juli 2008) Archived February 15, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ "LTU's Aircraft". Retrieved March 4, 2015.
  14. ^ "LTU's Fleet". March 2007. Retrieved March 4, 2015.
  15. ^ "Registration Details For D-AERN (LTU International Airways) L-1011 Tristar-1 - PlaneLogger". Retrieved 2023-04-17.
  16. ^ - Lockheed L-1011 TriStar retrieved 5 March 2023

External links edit

  Media related to LTU International at Wikimedia Commons