Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.


Germany’s Deutsche Bahn Sees Jump in Air-Rail Passenger Numbers

1 year ago

German rail operator Deutsche Bahn saw demand for connections between its trains and flights operated by Lufthansa increase 25 percent last year. The increase comes after the railroad and airline expanded their partnership, including more direct trains to the Frankfurt airport, in 2021.

“Where aviation and rail cooperate, we record double-digit growth rates,” said Michael Peterson, the head of Deutsche Bahn’s long-distance rail division that includes high-speed ICE trains, on Monday. “Our expanded feeder services to the largest German airport in Frankfurt am Main are part of this success.”

While Deutsche Bahn did not release passenger numbers, it said demand for these joint air-rail itineraries — or travelers who book both a flight and train connection on a single ticket — fully recovered from the pandemic by October 2021, and then grew in 2022. The data does not include travelers who bought flight and train tickets separately.

Lufthansa has previously said that it sold roughly 575,000 joint air-rail tickets with Deutsche Bahn in 2019.

(Deutsche Bahn)

Increasing the use of rail and ground transport over flights is a big push in Europe’s efforts to cut carbon emissions. France has banned short flights on routes where trains can make the journey in two-and-a-half-hours or less, while airlines and rail operators in Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland have all unveiled expanded partnerships in recent years. Deutsche Bahn, which has partnered with Lufthansa since the 1980s, even plans to join the global airline confab, Star Alliance, as its first intermodal partner.

However, major challenges remain, many related to the passenger experience and physical infrastructure. Wayfinding between flights and trains is limited at some airports, making the transfer experience potentially difficult for those unfamiliar with the process. And, outside of key high-speed rail routes in Western Europe, trains often take significantly longer than the flights they compete with.

Deutsche Bahn, in its statement Monday, highlighted the need for more infrastructure investment in order to expand the number of air-rail passengers. A new high-speed line between Munich and Stuttgart that opened in December will eventually link the Stuttgart airport, and the operator said a high-speed rail link to the Munich airport was needed in the future.


Deutsche Bahn Is Star Alliance’s First Rail Partner

2 years ago

Travelers eager for easier flight-to-train connections are about to get their wish in Germany. The global airline partnership network Star Alliance and the German rail company Deutsche Bahn are set to unveil a “new intermodal partnership” on July 4.

While details are scant, a media invite to the event said the partnership aims to make it easier for people to travel on joint flight-and-train itineraries. The announcement comes a month after Star CEO Jeffrey Goh hinted at an “intermodal” partner, and suggested that it would be a railroad.

A Deutsche Bahn ICE train at the Frankfurt airport. (dmytrok/Flickr)

Airlines and railroads around the world have taken renewed interest in air-rail partnerships in recent years. Air France, Lufthansa, and Swiss have expanded their tie ups with rail operators in their respective home countries, and Iberia has formed a new partnership with Spanish rail operator Renfe.


Star Alliance to Add European Intermodal Partner

2 years ago

The 26-member Star Alliance airline group is planning to add its first non-airline member, CEO Jeffrey Goh said on May 12.

Goh did not want to get ahead of a formal announcement expected in the next several weeks, but he said the partner would be in Europe and would most likely be a railroad. “I will take your money if you wanted to bet on the railways,” he told reporters.

It remains unclear if passengers would be able to redeem travel or earn points on the non-airline partner.

Separately, Goh said Star is launching an alliance-wide, co-branded credit card, an industry first. The card would allow members to earn points to redeem on the Star Alliance frequent-flier program of their choice, he said. The card will launch in an unspecified market in the third quarter of this year. If it is successful, the alliance will expand it to other markets, Goh said.