October 6, 2022
Today in Aviation: German Carrier Condor Flies Again
Today in Aviation

Today in Aviation: German Carrier Condor Flies Again

DALLAS – Today in Aviation, German leisure airline ‘Thomas Cook powered by Condor’ was rebranded simply as ‘Condor’ (DE) in 2004.

Condor (DE) could trace its history to December 21, 1955. Known initially as Deutsche Flugdienst GmbH, operations commenced on March 28, 1956, from Frankfurt (FRA). It had a fleet of three 36-seat Vickers VC.1 Vikings. 

In 1971, it became the first (and one of the few charter carriers) to add the Boeing 747 to its fleet. Between 1993 and 1996, Condor operated three Boeing 747-200s and leased a -400 series from parent company LH for additional capacity. Photo: Eduard Marmet, CC BY-SA 3.0 GFDL 1.2, via Wikimedia Commons.


By 1960, German flag-carrier Lufthansa (LH) would take complete control of the airline. After a name change to Condor Flugdienst on October 25, 1961, LH continued to operate DE as a charter subsidiary. It then rapidly expanded DE’s fleet and network. This included new long-haul services to Thailand, Sri Lanka, and the Dominican Republic, launched in 1966. 

Condor quickly became the world’s leading leisure airline. In 1971, it became the first (and one of the few charter carriers) to add the Boeing 747 to its fleet.

In 2000, LH began to sell off its shares in DE to the Thomas Cook Group (TCG). The transition and integration of DE with the group’s other airlines, including Thomas Cook Airlines UK, Scandinavia, and Belgium, led to the carrier’s rebranding as ‘Thomas Cook powered by Condor.’

A new livery was introduced, featuring the standard TCG livery with the addition of ‘powered by Condor.’ The first aircraft to display the new color scheme took off in June 2002. 

The airline has signed an agreement with Airbus for the purchase of seven Airbus A330neo and intends to lease a further nine. Photo: Airbus

Condor Flies Again

The branding did not last long, however. Management decided to return to the original Condor branding but with TCG colors. When Thomas Cook collapsed in 2019, the German government stepped in and offered a bridge loan to keep the airline flying. Polish flag-carrier LOT (LO) purchased DE in January 2020, but the sale collapsed a few months later due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In July 2021, asset management company Attestor took control of the airline, purchasing 51% of the shares. The remaining 49% is owned by the German federal government and the regional government in Hesse, where Condor is based. On July 28, the airline also announced an order for 16 Airbus A330-900neo aircraft as part of a fleet renewal program.

Featured image: The revised livery was introduced in June 2002. Condor became one of the first leisure airlines to introduce a two-class cabin on its Boeing 757 and 767 fleets. Photo: Ken Fielding/https://www.flickr.com/photos/kenfielding, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Writer, aviation fanatic, and Airways European Deputy Editor, Lee is a plant geek and part-time Flight Attendant for a UK-based airline. Based in Liverpool, United Kingdom.

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