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Hapag-Lloyd Scheduled Service Pre-HLX?

Thu Dec 30, 2004 6:57 am

From the early 1990s, some of Europe's leading charter airlines began limited scheduled networks. Did German carrier Hapag-Lloyd offer any scheduled flights before the start-up of Hapag-Lloyd Express?
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RE: Hapag-Lloyd Scheduled Service Pre-HLX?

Thu Dec 30, 2004 9:37 am

Although I don't know the specific routes, they certainly did.

Many German 'holiday' flights are operated as scheduled services and have been for a few years. This applies to LTU, Condor and Air Berlin, and maybe others, as well as Hapag. Most other European holiday flights such as those by UK carriers are operated purely as charters.

Presumably the German flights sell most of the capacity to travel agents but have some seats for sale as a scheduled service.

Perhaps one of our German friends can explain the reasons for this?
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RE: Hapag-Lloyd Scheduled Service Pre-HLX?

Thu Dec 30, 2004 9:56 am

I guess it has to do with the 3rd EU air transport liberalisation package which went into effect in 1993. Before that, even flights within the EU were subject to bilateral agreements between the states, including designation of carriers for certain routes etc. It was usually easier to operate a Charter flight than a scheduled flight. When these regulatory obstacles were out of the way, most holiday airlines converted they charter flights into scheduled services. I see two main advantages for the airlines:

1) Seat-only sales became easier (no need to add a "virtual" inclusive tour package to a seat or to sell only via a tour operator) and
2) Listing on the GDS databases like Amadeus to increase sales potential,

Just my two cents though....

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RE: Hapag-Lloyd Scheduled Service Pre-HLX?

Thu Dec 30, 2004 10:05 am

Did German carrier Hapag-Lloyd offer any scheduled flights before the start-up of Hapag-Lloyd Express?

Off course they did. Hapag-Lloyd Express has actually nothing to do with this topic. HLX was founded during the low-fare airlines hype here in Germany before fall 2002, also their main competitor Germanwings (another airline which has been "pulled out of the hat").

In the past, LTU, Condor, Hapag-Lloyd, Aero Lloyd, etc. only sold their seats to package-tour tourists, i.e. you had to book a combined hotel + flight + transfer package from a tour operator to get a seat on the plane, it was impossible to buy a flight-only ticket.

I remember that I flew quite often with my parents on such a "tour-package" flight, otherwise, I think, I had never got a flight on some of these airlines.

Later, (in the mid/late 1990's?) they started to sell tickets to all people (also to non package tourists) on their European network. A few months later they started to sell seats in their entire network to everyone, they were not the classic charter airlines anymore but for me they have still this reputation (which means nothing bad, all of them are better than Lufthansa!).


Edit: Grammar error, I meant "also" not "as". Sorry, has been corrected.

[Edited 2004-12-30 02:13:14]
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RE: Hapag-Lloyd Scheduled Service Pre-HLX?

Thu Dec 30, 2004 4:27 pm

Just to add something to the "evolution": first, some tour operators started selling seat-only-bookings by offering so-called "camping flights": the flight you booked included a booking for one night at a camping site (or in some cases at a hostel or cheap hotel), so that you essentially only paid the flight - this was a way for them to comply with the "may only be sold in conjunction with land arrangements" rule for those flights.

These seat-only sales were only made through tour-operators, the airlines only started picking up on that a bit later - as Patrick states, it was in the mid to late 1990s, and I actually remember it as more late than mid 1990s - at least for most airlines: around 1997/1998 barely any seat-only bookings were possible, some started in the 1998/1999 timeframe, while most flights, at that time, were still only bookable through the "TOMA"-Mask in the Start/Amadeus GDS (the same mask travel agencies use to book inclusive tours): barely any airline had started sales through own reservations departments or websites then.

Then, I'd say around the year 2000, the first airlines started sales through their website, with Air Berlin being the most advanced of them: they practically sold seats on all of their flights, except the few in their own network that were full charters; Hapag Lloyd and Condor followed a while later, though I never felt them to be quite as aggressive as AB about their seat-only-sales, which probably has to do with the fact that they're both tour-operator-owned. Aero Lloyd came in last out of this group, and at the time of their demise, this was one factor that was mentioned quite frequently.

By the way - as far as I know, only Hapag Lloyd at some point started offering lower fares through standard GDS access than through the TOMA-Mask and sometimes even their own website, because the website was - at that time - based on the same booking database that feeds the TOMA-Mask. You could, at that time (don't know, and doubt, if this is still the case), get a cheaper flight by looking at a normal Internet Booking Engine than by looking at HLF's own website - or if someone came into a travel agency with a printout from HLF's website, it was always possible to beat the price by simply not using TOMA, but by looking in Amadeus.

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