June 12, 2024

San Antonio Celebrates Historic Nonstop Flight to Frankfurt, Germany

San Antonio, Texas, is gearing up to make aviation history as the city prepares to welcome its first-ever regularly scheduled nonstop long-distance flight over the Atlantic Ocean. The Alamo City is abuzz with excitement as officials hail this momentous occasion as one of the most significant milestones in its aviation history.

The pivotal development comes courtesy of German leisure airline Condor, a carrier that may not be a household name in the United States but is poised to leave an indelible mark on San Antonio’s aviation landscape. Condor’s imminent arrival at San Antonio International Airport (SAT) is nothing short of an air-service triumph.

For the residents of San Antonio, this announcement holds immense significance as it grants the city its inaugural regularly scheduled nonstop service to Europe. Such a connection had long been a cherished aspiration for local leaders and the broader community. Currently, San Antonio Airport boasts no long-haul service, making the forthcoming nonstop link between San Antonio and Europe an extraordinary leap forward.

Presently, the airport’s only international service extends to Mexico, courtesy of Aeromexico, VivaAerobus, and Volaris. Remarkably, the airport hasn’t even been able to sustain a link to Toronto on Air Canada. While Southwest Airlines provides a robust point-to-point network from San Antonio, the majority of airlines primarily operate flights to and from their respective hubs and focus cities.

In their quest to secure transatlantic service to the airport, San Antonio has gone to great lengths, offering substantial incentives to airlines willing to embark on this venture, including a minimum revenue guarantee. The airport’s primary goal has been to establish nonstop flights to Frankfurt and London, and these incentives have played a pivotal role in Condor’s decision to introduce this groundbreaking service. It’s important to note that these incentives have not only come from the airport and government but also from local businesses, further highlighting the enthusiasm for this endeavor.

As of May 17, 2024, German leisure airline Condor will be launching nonstop flights between Frankfurt (FRA) and San Antonio (SAT). These flights will operate with the following schedule 3x weekly (Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays):

– DE2136 Frankfurt to San Antonio departing 2:00 PM arriving 6:25 PM [Wed, Fri]
– DE2136 Frankfurt to San Antonio departing 3:40 PM arriving 8:50 PM [Mon]
– DE2137 San Antonio to Frankfurt departing 8:25 PM arriving 1:40 PM [Wed, Fri]
– DE2137 San Antonio to Frankfurt departing 10:05 PM arriving 3:20 PM (+1 day) [Mon]

The 5,376-mile flight is clocked at 12 hour and 10 minute to 12 hour and 12 minute westbound and 10 hour and 15 minute eastbound. Condor will operate the flight with an Airbus A330-900neo, featuring 310 seats. This includes 30 business class seats, 64 extra legroom economy seats, and 216 economy seats.

While such incentives have their merits, they have also raised questions in the aviation industry:

– On one hand, more long-haul air service is known to contribute to economic growth over time, fostering increased tourism and providing direct links for businesses.

– In some instances, airlines have taken a chance on serving airports that weren’t historically on their radar, resulting in great success. Notably, airports like Austin (AUS) and San Diego (SAN) have witnessed a surge in long-haul service in the past decade.

However, the sustainability of routes established with the aid of incentives has often been a point of contention. Once the incentives run out, these routes sometimes face discontinuation. Local governments and businesses may essentially be subsidizing tickets for a limited time.

Nonetheless, San Antonio is poised for a new era in air travel. Condor is set to launch thrice-weekly nonstop flights between Frankfurt and San Antonio in May 2024, marking a significant milestone for San Antonio Airport as it ventures into long-haul service for the first time. While the path ahead may hold uncertainties, this achievement is undoubtedly a remarkable beginning, igniting hope for more international flights to come to the Alamo City.

As San Antonio takes this historic leap, aviation enthusiasts and travelers alike eagerly anticipate the dawn of a new era in the city’s aviation history, marked by increased global connectivity and opportunities.