German – Malta air links will be enhanced by Turkish low-cost airline

What is the best and most reasonable inexpensive way to fly from Leibzig, Hannover or any German airport to Malta?

German – Malta air links will be enhanced by Turkish low-cost airline

What is the best and most reasonable inexpensive way to fly from Leibzig, Hannover or any German airport to Malta? Leipzig had been a route that Air Malta stopped at the beginning of the current restructuring process, with SunExpress the first regular non-stop service again from there.

Starting in June next year, German airports Hannover, Leipzig and Stuttgart will be linked to Malta by once-weekly (Fridays) non-stop flights operated by Turkish-German low-cost carrier SunExpress Deutschland, the EU subsidiary of Turkish-German Sun Express.

SunExpress was set up in 1989 as a joint venture between Turkish Airlines and Lufthansa to cater for tourist flights to Antalya. During the 1990s Lufthansa transferred its shares to Condor, back then Lufthansa’s holiday flights division. Contrary to many carriers in those “wild days of Turkish aviation”, SunExpress always tried to make a difference with its emphasis on a serious corporate image and a modern fleet standard. When Condor came into the hands of tour operator Thomas Cook in 2007, Lufthansa ‘repatriated’ its shares in the carrier.

Today Sun Express offers flights between Turkey and Germany and domestic flights within Turkey. Scandinavia has been developed as further source market for flights to Turkey – also keeping the large Iraqi communities in Sweden in mind.

The airline has proven an essential figure in the development of Istanbul’s second airport, Sabiha Gokcen, on the Asian side of Istanbul. It operates also to/from third-tier German airports such as Erfurt-Bindersleben, Saarbrucken, Hahn or Friedrichshafen, not least supported by the established image of Antalya as a (very) low cost destination and ethnic links from Germany. Passengers of Turkish origin, most prevalent in the former West Germany states, and mostly with personal connections to eastern Turkey, find many links via SunExpress’ hubs.

Since Turkey is not an EU member state, a German subsidiary was set up for flights from Germany to Egypt and for intra-EU flights from Germany, both as a scheduled operation that also sells directly or as pure charter flights fully allocated to tour operators.

Formally the Malta flights are charter flights for tour operators. However it is possible to buy flight-onlies also from the tour operators. FTI, a tour operator that has the widest marketing of Malta, also allocates seats on these flights for its inclusive tour offers. The carrier has a combined fleet of 62 Boeing 737-700/800 jets, 9 of which are with the German subsidiary.

Comparing prices

Yet, if people do not mind taking a weekday departure and changing planes in Frankfurt or Munich, Lufthansa or Lufthansa combined with Air Malta has fares ca. €150 lower, per person, for the same period.

This can be found when looking at both Hannover itself or its regional alternatives Bremen or Münster/Osnabruck during the summer holiday season of the German north-west, including domestic feeder flight and all taxes, compared to a SunExpress Hannover charter flight-only ticket sold by a tour operator during the same period. (comparison: Christmas for August; €226-240 Bremen or Hannover respectively weekdays via Frankfurt or Munich with Lufthansa/Air Malta vs. €374 Hannover non-stop tour operator/SunExpress).

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However, one has to spend e.g. over €500 with Air Berlin from Cologne, while a legacy carrier Lufthansa or Air Malta flight from global hub Frankfurt (main airport for the west) can cost almost €300 less than that with the low-cost/leisure airline – per person – during the same period.

Certainly a direct flight always puts a destination ‘on the map’ in a source market area, and this helps promoting the destination even if people look for alternatives of travel. Direct flights are also preferable to people not so experienced with changing planes at bigger airports or who might find it too much hassle.

Since particularly families with school-age children travel during that summer peak period, using the traditional flag-carriers can quickly mean saving hundreds if not a thousand Euros on a holiday, at least if opting for a flight-only (and hence ordering transfers in Malta and accommodation independently).

Car parking fees can also be a major issue about choosing airports or deciding to travel. For the north-west, Hannover airport offers tourists their summer-only parking lot at €35 for the first week and €10 per week thereafter. Bremen is competitive both with its own airport garage parking directly near the terminal as well as additional parking facilities nearby the city airport (such as 3 weeks for €55, year-round), with additionally the best public transport connection to the city centre of all German airports. Also Münster-Osnabrück offers three weeks at €41-73 on their two cheaper parking lots. Hannover’s €68 for three weeks of garaged parking is also a far cry from the fees charged in Hamburg, let alone Berlin, where one will have to spend over €100 more. Regarding big airports, at least Frankfurt sells parking tickets costing €185 for €85–but only if one books a car parking slot several months ahead via internet.

Air Malta operates flights to Hamburg since many years, using this airport to centrally cover the city of Hamburg, the northern part of Lower Saxony, the Schleswig Holstein state, and western Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. It is the only airline consistently connecting the area year-round with direct flights, thus also ensuring direct connectivity year-round, essential also for tour operators. The north-end of Schleswig-Holstein is additionally covered by Ryanair flights from Billund (Denmark).

Air Berlin returning

Air Berlin, which in the past years was involved in the TUI cruise-and-fly operation that significantly contributed to the record arrivals figures, is going to return with Sunday flights from Cologne, Stuttgart, Munich and Nuremberg (end of June till October).

There will also be two weekly flights from Swiss-French-German airport Basle. A good number of seats will certainly be allocated to the cruise-and-fly operation, which explains the high fares for the remaining few seats.

A number of other German airports as well as Stockholm and Copenhagen are offered as connections particularly via Vienna, which is going to be connected to Malta by Air Berlin’s Austrian subsidiary Niki three times weekly.

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