Lufthansa not coming back anytime soon to east Africa


Many travelers will still recall the links Lufthansa provided for eastern Africa, when they still operated their daily passenger flights into the region (Nairobi and Dar es Salaam) up to the end of the 1990s. At that time, LH withdrew with little notice from the two countries, citing poor yields and lack of suitable aircraft, having just sold their fleet of A310s and not having the right sized aircraft available at the time, or so they said and told the story.

Other carriers, however, capitalized on this development, and to date, Frankfurt can only be reached nonstop from east Africa if flying on a holiday charter to and from Mombasa or else on scheduled airlines via Brussels, Zurich, Amsterdam, London, Addis Ababa, or Dubai.

When meeting the CEO of Lufthansa in Brussels for the Star Alliance event celebrating Brussels Airlines membership, opportunity arose to speak with Wolfgang Mayrhuber about their plans for east Africa. Asked about the chances of LH resuming direct flights, he said that while Lufthansa was always monitoring demand and traffic flow to and from eastern Africa, the airline presently is happy with their arrangements of using the code share with Brussels Airlines to Entebbe while, in fact, considering expanding code shares to the other three eastern African SN destinations of Bujumbura, Kigali, and Nairobi, subject to regulatory approvals.

Lufthansa holds 45 percent of the Brussels Airlines’ shares already and has the option to purchase the balance of shares in 2011.

The same applies for Swiss, which LH has already fully integrated into the Lufthansa Group. Swiss presently flies into Nairobi and Dar es Salaam and provides an easy connection for passengers from Germany, using Lufthansa and Swiss’s joint flights between the German airports and Zurich, where they can transfer to the long-haul flight to Nairobi or Dar.

Mr. Mayrhuber said he was satisfied that these two group airlines were doing a good job in offering seats for the German market via their respective hubs and there would, therefore, not be a resumption of LH operated flights to eastern Africa any time soon – while not ruling out a return in the long run, once demand had sufficiently risen to justify it.

Lufthansa, however, remains committed, it was pointed out to this column by another source within Lufthansa, to operating regular cargo flights in and out of Kenya and on demand cargo charters to other east African airports as required from time to time.