Lufthansa’s network growing in Berlin and Frankfurt; London, Milan and Stuttgart see significant cuts

Although Lufthansa has grown considerably at Berlin Tegel, where the airline planned to take advantage of the now delayed opening of Berlin Brandenburg Airport, the German flag carrier is still bigger at its three hubs in Frankfurt, Munich and Düsseldorf, as well as in Hamburg.

As Lufthansa’s management and its cabin crew unions prepare for further talks to resolve their differences and avoid further embarrassing and costly strikes, this week takes a closer look at how the airline’s network has evolved in the last 12 months. Unlike most other European flag carriers, Lufthansa operates a dual-hub strategy with major operations at both Frankfurt and Munich. In terms of aircraft movements, Düsseldorf ranks a distant third with almost two-thirds fewer flights than Munich.

Among the airline’s current top 15 airports in terms of movements the biggest changes have occurred at Berlin Tegel (as Lufthansa planned to grow considerably to take advantage of the now much-delayed opening of Berlin Brandenburg Airport), Stuttgart (where Lufthansa has transferred a number of services to its in-house LCC germanwings) and Milan Malpensa (where the airline’s subsidiary Lufthansa Italia operated from February 2009 to the end of October 2011). German airports (shown in light green) account for eight of the top 15 airports.

Top 15 Lufthansa airports by flights Weekly departing flights - change since last September

Source: Diio Mi analysis of Innovata data for September 2011 and September 2012

Lufthansa’s busiest non-German airports are London Heathrow and Paris CDG, although both have seen double-digit cuts in the number of weekly flights. In the last 12 months, Lufthansa has axed flights to Heathrow from Cologne/Bonn, Dresden, Milan Malpensa and Stuttgart, while starting flights from Berlin Tegel and adding an extra daily frequency on its Frankfurt and Munich services. Paris’ reduction is mostly due to the removal of Milan Malpensa flights. Across its entire network, the number of weekly flights in September is up just 0.3% compared with last September.

US airports play big role in ASK rankings

If instead of analysing weekly flights the metric of capacity as measured by ASKs (Available Seat Kilometres) is used then a different pictures emerges of Lufthansa’s biggest airports. Frankfurt is now twice the size of Munich thanks to the airline’s wider network of long-haul flights from its primary hub. And even Munich is now five times ‘bigger’ than Düsseldorf. Long-haul destinations served with multiple daily flights using widebody aircraft now feature prominently in the top 15, with five US airports making the top 15. The five non-US and non-German airports in the top 15 are Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore and Tokyo.

Top 15 Lufthansa airports by ASKs Weekly departing ASKs (millions) - change since last September

Source: Diio Mi analysis of Innovata data for September 2011 and September 2012

The rapid growth at Berlin Tegel is even more noticeable in terms of ASKs than with movements, with an almost doubling of capacity at the airport in the last 12 months.

Berlin dominates new route launches

This September, Lufthansa is operating 67 airport-pairs that it did not operate last September, while having dropped just over 40 routes leaving a current total of around 410 routes. Of the new routes 31 are from Berlin Tegel, 13 are from Düsseldorf, 10 are from Frankfurt, seven are from Hamburg, and six are from Munich. Of the dropped routes 15 are from Milan Malpensa, seven are from Stuttgart, seven are from Frankfurt and four are from Düsseldorf.

New routes already announced starting this winter include Berlin Tegel – Innsbruck, Munich – Cape Town (moved from Frankfurt), and Munich – Rotterdam, while next summer should see the launch of direct flights between Munich and Mexico City.


  1. Jürgen says:

    You mention in a side note, but it is important: Lufthansa is likely to integrate it’s inhouse LCC Germanwings for its decentralized nonstop routes, which takes over many of the Routes you define as a loss. So it would be nice to see, how much the Routes really change, taking Lufthansa Group airlines (subsidiary or partner) or Star Alliance partners into account.
    It will be interesting to see, how Germanwings can handle the split, trying to be a low cost carrier, but being also feeder and mileage partner and … for its mother LH. And how Lufthansa handles the multiplicity of “Lufthansa products” with non Lufthansa branding in the future… My guess: “Lufthansa operated by …”

  2. It’s very interesting to see the narrowing gap between Frankfurt and Munich in terms of departure numbers.

    But since the transit passengers are of high importance, most of the LH’s long distance flights are cummulated in Frankfurt.

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