Germany’s biggest airline is ending services between Berlin and New York, and it has nothing to do with tariffs, trade wars or Donald Trump.
Deutsche Lufthansa AG will stop linking the German capital with the U.S. city’s John F. Kennedy airport after failing to bag optimal landing times needed to fill planes and turn a profit, Chief Executive Officer Carsten Spohr said Thursday.
Lufthansa introduced the JFK service following the collapse of local rival Air Berlin Plc last year, serving the route five times weekly with an Airbus SE A330 wide-body jet. Trouble is, the flight departs Berlin’s Tegel airport at 5:35 p.m. and doesn’t arrive in the U.S. until after 9:30 p.m. local time. The return service leaves at 11:20 p.m. and lands in Germany around noon the next day.
Spohr looked at switching the New York route to Lufthansa’s no-frills Eurowings arm, which has a lower cost base, but the carrier was unable to secure more-attractive landing slots even after scouting out Newark airport in New Jersey.
Lufthansa will retain a New York link of sorts, selling seats to Newark on flights operated by partner United Airlines, though people who want to stick with the German carrier will have to travel via Frankfurt. With the summer timetable travelers can also fly direct from Berlin with Delta Air Lines Inc.
The focus of long-haul operations at Eurowings is meanwhile shifting to Dusseldorf, another former Air Berlin base. While low on tourist appeal, the city has a catchment of 10 million people and more business traffic than the capital, acting as Germany’s third transfer hub after Frankfurt and Munich.
Berlin has a population 3.5 million and Tegel, an overcrowded relic of the Cold War era, lacks even an automated baggage-sorting system, among other flaws. London and Paris aside, few European cities can sustain long-haul flights without connecting passengers, Spohr said — even to the Big Apple.
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