Dresden and Leipzig poorly connected to major EU cities; why no Berlin – Manchester flights?

Image: Leipzig’s central Terminal and new Runway North
Um himmels willen! (Roughly “for skies’ sake!”) Why are there no London services to lovely Leipzig? (Yes Ryanair, we know you fly from Stansted to “Leipzig-Altenburg” airport.) Thanks to Uwe Schossig for this shot of Leipzig’s new central terminal and new Runway North.

After anna.aero’s recent analysis of scheduled services to major European cities from UK regional airports, this week a similar analysis is done for German regional airports. With its dual-hub strategy, Lufthansa ensures that there are many destinations served from both Frankfurt and Munich, but what about at other German airports?

Using schedule data for last August (typically the peak demand month at many European airports), the number of weekly departures to a range of major European cities was determined. In addition to the six other cities with airports serving more than five million annual passengers (Schönefeld and Tegel were combined into a single figure for Berlin), three other airports (Bremen, Dresden and Leipzig) were included in the analysis.

Chart: German weekly departures to major European cities
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 3 August 2009
Image: Air Force One at Dresden in June 2009
Air Force One at Dresden in June 2009. Indeed, if you want to get to most of the rest of Europe from Dresden, think of using your own personal transport; the lack of services from Dresden and Leipzig to major European cities is quite startling.

Dresden and Leipzig underserved for international routes

Paris, Vienna and Zurich are served from eight of the nine cities examined. Dresden lacks a Paris service, Bremen has no link to Vienna and Leipzig has no flights to Zurich. The lack of Brussels flights from Cologne/Bonn and Düsseldorf can be explained by their close geographic proximity (less than 200 kilometres apart), although Amsterdam is not much further away and is served by all the major regional airports. However, KLM’s Amsterdam hub is much bigger than that of Brussels Airlines in Brussels.

One curious omission is the lack of scheduled services between Manchester and either of the two Berlin airports, especially considering that Manchester is linked to six other German airports in the analysis. airberlin briefly operated between Berlin Tegel and Manchester in 2004/05, while Jet2.com tried Berlin Schönefeld to Manchester during the summer of 2007. However, it should be noted that easyJet has been operating daily flights from Berlin Schönefeld to nearby Liverpool since April 2004.

The lack of services from Dresden and Leipzig to major European cities is quite startling. Only Vienna, among major European cities, is served from both airports while there are no flights to London from either airport. British Airways axed its Gatwick to Dresden service at the end of October 2008. However, Ryanair has operated a service from London Stansted to Leipzig-Altenburg airport since May 2003, but this airport is 53 kilometres from downtown Leipzig according to the airport’s own website.


  1. Ulli says:

    There are three German hubs for Lufthansa. Besides Frankfurt and Munich, Düsseldorf is defined as a hub by LH as well: http://www.lufthansa.com/online/portal/lh/de/info_and_services/at_the_airport?nodeid=1771230&l=en&cid=18002

  2. Why no BER MAN?
    Good question. Air Berlin and Jet2.com tried – but as always in the short term thinking of LCC´s they disregard the fact that they have to invest some time and of course some money into the route development. the airports ry what they can but some field work has to be covered by the airlines themselves. Here the problems with LCC´s shows up: no man power available to cover the relevant airport catchments and build up a strategic B2B relationship to he markets. Its a pitty that LCC´s disregard that matter – invest in short term tactic advertizing but ignore the field of sales oriented manpower. That it could work showed another example with Jet2.com: when they opened their forst German route Dusseldorf to Leeds/Bradford the route gathered momentum and operates till today – but for the launch they invested in some field sales support.
    Last year they started again from Dusseldorf to Edinburgh – a promissing route,
    but unfortunately ignored again the “human factor” and failed after just some momnhs of operation! To summarize: often LCC´s torpedo their own prospects by too short termed expectations which kill the strategic value of many routes for a long time.

  3. No BER to MAN route? According to our Airport Intelligence tool Airport IS there were only 10,000 passengers in the 12 months up to October 2009 on the OD from BER to MAN (one way). The natural demand is somewhat limited I’d say. And it’s a pretty long sector of about 2 h.

    There are other destinations that are not served from Berlin that look more promising: LYS for instance. 14,000 passengers one way (same period as above), a shorter sector. U2 is a factor on both routes with Easyjet flying from SXF to LPL and GVA. Still LYS is about 150 km from GVA whereas Liverpool to Manchester is only about 60 km.

    Marc Heinicke

  4. Marco Plarre says:

    The lack of a BER-MAN service is startling indeed. How come it worked back in the mid-90s when Maersk Air on behalf of BA (all in BA livery, mind) operated successfully 2-3 times a day? Surely the demand is still there, which for business travel an EZY route to LPL can’t cover. It would be interesting to hear the excuses from BA and LH: slots, lack of the right equipment for that route etc. etc.

  5. Marco Plarre has hit the nail on the head, except it isn’t quite so startling, Marco, as you will see. This article is about German routes generally so forgive me for digressing but Manchester has thrown in the towel where EZE/Liverpool are concerned and lacks the committment to attract and retain airlines – any airline – on routes like this, in competition. You’d never believe MAN is supposed to be much senior to LPL. That is why there were ‘only 10k passengers in the year to October 2009’ Mr Heinicke. No other reason. As Mr Plarre also points out the route worked well, and with frequency, in the 1990s. As for BA, make that ‘LA’, Marco – London Airways, or even Heathrow Airways. Walsh couldn’t give a monkeys about the ‘British regions’ and it’s about time he was fired off. Finally, there is a lack of appropriate equipment generally to handle routes like this, in the 100-seat category. Other routes missing at Manchester are Madrid (EZE also operating from Liverpool [only], even though it is now up to 19 routes at MAN), and Vienna. Three western European capital cities missing from a city that claims to be Britain’s second (at least) most important economically, culturally, every which way. Pathetic. In the case of Vienna the last time there was a MAN-VIE service, in 1982, I worked for the airline that flew it – AUA. 27 years ago!! I rest my case. D Bentley, Oldham, Greater Manchester

  6. P. Kendal says:

    To David Bentley, it’s clear from your post that you’re frustrated with the state of regional aviation in the UK today, but think outside of the Manchester bag – it may be losing out on Madrid and Berlin to Liverpool, but think of the horrendous amount of -other- destinations served from Manchester that plenty of other airports would love to have under their belts. New York and Chicago might be old-hat to the MAN faithful but LPL, LBA, EMA have either tried and failed to uphold that route or never even had a sniff of the business it might bring to the surrounding area. Airlines aren’t (usually) retarded, and will run a route if it can make them money/if they’re incentivised (think VLM MAN-LCY a few years ago).

    “Three western European capital cities missing from a city that claims to be Britain’s second (at least) most important economically, culturally, every which way. Pathetic.” – at least implies Manchester has either almost as much or as much importance as London? Economically, not a chance, culturally – there are other cities that possess that accolade (hint, hint) etc. etc.

    On topic, I travelled to Leipzig last year and ended up going from Stansted to SXF, then getting a fast train from the VERY impressive Hauptbahnhof. Journey time wasn’t awful, but I certainly agree that a lack of a link between the city and London is quite worrying. (Apologies for my rant, David)

  7. Stuart says:

    Here we are in June 2012, however part of the initial question still remains – Why are Dresden and Leipzig poorly connected to major EU cities?

    I recently travelled between London and Leipzig on a Ryanair service out of Stansted – Extremely healthy loads on both sectors. I understand that this service will terminate as of November this year. In addition the Lufthansa service between London Heathrow and Dresden also terminated earlier this year – which is understandable given LH’s sale of BMI, and LH maybe wanting to use their slots on the most lucrative routes possible.

    I understand that the new Berlin Brandenburg airport will be around 2 hours road/rail journey from both Leipzig & Dresden, which is not ideal. However, it does raise a question in my mind as to why this region of Germany seems to be so neglected in terms of air travel to any of the major European cities. Dresden and Leipzig are amongst Germany’s fastest growing cities, with a increasing number of companies setting up facilities in the area – Volkswagen, Porsche, DHL, various Semi – Conductor companies etc etc. It also has a seemingly good tourism trade, as well as youthful population, keen to travel as well and work in other parts of the continent.

    It surprises me that there is no major interest from any of the LCC – is there an obvious reason for their lack of visibility?

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