San Antonio officials are celebrating what they say is one of the most important moments in the city’s aviation history.
While German airline Condor may not be a household name in the United States, its arrival at San Antonio International Airport (SAT) is being heralded as a triumph for air services.
That’s because Condor will give the city its first regular non-stop service to Europe, something that has long been at the top of local leaders’ wish list.
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“San Antonio is intercontinental,” San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg told the San Antonio Express-News at a press event to announce the flights. “We have arrived on the world stage.”
Condor’s San Antonio flights will begin on May 17, 2024, when the airline will launch three weekly nonstop flights to its hub at Frankfurt Airport (FRA). The service will be seasonal and will run until September 6. Onward connections will be available to the airline’s destinations in Europe and the Middle East. Tickets are on sale now, with Condor’s website showing economy fares varying widely – ranging from around $461 one-way to more than $1,100 one-way, depending on the date of travel.
Condor will fly the 8,376-mile route with its new 310-seat Airbus A330-900neo wide-body jets. The aircraft have 30 seats in Condor’s updated and well-rated business class cabin and 64 seats with extra legroom. The remaining 216 seats are in standard economy.
Condor – which made headlines last year with a striking new striped livery for its planes – is not a member of any of the three major frequent flyer groups. However, the airline does have a partnership with Alaska Airlines that allows customers flying with Condor to earn Alaska Airlines miles or vice versa. Condor has doubled its growth in North America since the pandemic, with San Antonio becoming the twelfth largest destination in the US
That’s an upgrade: Condor, a German budget airline, unveils new Airbus A330 cabins that are nicer than Lufthansa’s
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Currently, the only international flights from San Antonio are to Mexico, where a handful of airlines fly to destinations like Cancun, Guadalajara and Mexico City.
But securing transatlantic service had become a top priority for San Antonio in recent years, and airport officials could only watch as nearby Austin – the booming capital of Texas just 80 miles from San Antonio – introduced a new European service with British Airways, KLM, Lufthansa and Virgin Atlantic Ocean over the past decade.
To make such a route possible, local business leaders have raised more than $2 million to secure international service – with Frankfurt and London the main targets, according to Express-News.
Seating makeover: Inside Condor’s new premium economy coach cabins
Such funds can be used in a variety of ways, including helping to cover an airline’s marketing costs in promoting their new service or waiving landing fees. Another popular option is to use a fund as an ‘income guarantee’. These essentially guarantee a fixed amount of total revenue on the route, with the money used to offset any losses below that amount.
It appears some of that fund will be made available to Condor, with the Express-News saying in its coverage of the announcement that the city will offer the airline a total of $1.3 million in incentives – including approximately $900,000 in marketing funds to promote the airline. new route and $374,000 in waived landing and terminal fees.
Regardless of what attracted Condor, the new service to Frankfurt will immediately become San Antonio’s best-known route – giving the city its long-awaited first service to Europe.
Now local officials will have to hope the flights will be successful, as the route’s failure would likely hurt San Antonio’s chances of attracting more transatlantic routes.
Even with the short seasonal duration of the flights, city officials struck an optimistic tone.
“These new flights will obviously help us open some avenues into certain industries that are strong on both sides, including advanced manufacturing and cybersecurity,” Nirenberg, the mayor of San Antonio, told the Express-News.