Air Transport World

LTU, that's who! (Lufttransport-Sued AG)(includes analysis of German leisure airline market)

DUSSELDORF - Abstract information: What airline flies from Germany to more destinations in Florida (four) than any other transatlantic carrier? Lufthansa? Guess again. American? Wrong. Delta? No way. United? Nope.

The answer is LTU International Airways, Germany's third-largest airline after Deutsche Lufthansa and its vacation-carrier clone Condor, with which LTU is in neck and neck competition.

LTU has grown nonstop and flies from 10 domestic airports; both carriers talk of record gains. But the two couldn't be more different - one a fiercely independent, privately owned company, the other an integral part of the powerful Lufthansa concern, to which its profits flow.

Both leisure-market specialists carried about 5.7 million passengers last year, LTU with its combined fleet of 26, including affiliate carriers, and 2,700 employees, and Condor, with 33 aircraft and 2,000 staff. in the last fiscal year, LTU's operating turnover soared 7.3% to Dm3.38 billion ($2.47 billion), while Condor's was Dm1.77 billion. Whereas Condor had a Dm125.5 million net profit, up from Dm28.5 million the year before, LTU's net gain was about Dm141.6 million.

With headquarters near Rhein-Ruhr Airport in suburban Dusseldorf-Lohausen, Germany's second-busiest airport after Frankfurt, LTU is marking its 40th anniversary auspiciously. Not only has LTU become the fourth airline to operate Airbus A330-300s, it also placed orders in March totaling $155 million for another Boeing 757 and 767-300ER, for March, 1996 delivery, to be based in Munich, LTU's other hub. Not bad for a carrier that started out modestly with prop jobs such as the Vickers Viking, Bristol 170 and Douglas DC-4.

"But best of all," chuckles lanky MD Hans Joachim Driessen, 49, "we're making money, and that's what it's all about. …

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