Our History (1955-2013)
Condor, the leisure airline of Thomas Cook AG, is founded on December 21 as “Deutsche Flugdienst GmbH” by four partners, Norddeutscher Lloyd (27.75%), Hamburg-Amerika-Linie (27.75%), Deutsche Lufthansa (26%) and Deutsche Bundesbahn (18.5%). The home airport is Frankfurt am Main. The fleet comprises three British-made, twin-engined Vickers Viking prop jobs, each with 36 seats.
The company’s tourism flights begin on March 29 with a major round trip to the “Holy Land” and Egypt. Mallorca and the Canary Island of Tenerife are added to the flight program within the first year of operation.
Deutsche Lufthansa AG acquires 100% of the capital.
Deutsche Flugdienst GmbH acquires “Condor Luftreederei Hamburg”, which was founded by the Oetker Group in 1957, and changes its name to Condor Flugdienst GmbH.
Condor Flugdienst GmbH has a 63.3% share of all German air tourism. Around 66,000 passengers are transported during the year – Mallorca leads the way with 36,000 passengers.
The first longhaul flights go to Thailand, Sri Lanka, Kenya and the Dominican Republic.
At this time, the biggest passenger aircraft in the world is a Boeing 747 “Jumbo”, and Condor is the first leisure airline to use one.
With a turnover of 291 million Deutschmarks, Condor is the global leader among leisure airlines. The fleet comprises a total of 14 Boeing aircraft: two Boeing 747s, two Boeing 707s, and ten Boeing 727s.
“Condor flights for individuals” (now Condor for individuals). Condor no longer markets only charter capacities, it also uses its seat-only business to sell seats on their own, directly to end customers.
Condor adds modern Boeing 757 and Boeing 767 leisure jets to its fleet. They are operated initially from the production workshop of Südflug, a 100% subsidiary of Condor. Condor is the first leisure airline to gamble on putting a separate and more comfortable class in its aircraft. Comfort Class creates new standards of quality.
The Südflug subsidiary is integrated into Condor in the fall.
Condor expands its shareholdings. Alpha Holding GmbH (30%), Kreutzer Touristik GmbH (37.5%), Fischer Reisen GmbH (100%) and Öger Tours GmbH, with 10%, are now all part of the Condor Tourism Group. Condor also acquires Lufthansa’s 40% holding in the Turkish charter airline SunExpress, which is later increased to 50%.
As part of Condor’s fortieth birthday celebrations, the American pop artist James Rizzi turns a Boeing 757 into a flying work of art, the so-called “Rizzi-Bird”. With twelve firm orders, Condor is the first customer for the Boeing 757-300.
Condor Flugdienst GmbH is owned by C&N Touristic AG (now Thomas Cook AG). With the merger of Condor Flugdienst GmbH and NUR Touristic GmbH, Deutsche Lufthansa AG and KarstadtQuelle AG have created the basis for an integrated tourism group with a European format – both partners have a 50% holding in the company.
At the start of the year, Condor establishes “Condor Berlin GmbH”, a 100% subsidiary company based in Berlin Schönefeld. By the end of the year, Condor is awaiting six Airbus A320-200 aircraft, one of the most modern and fuel-efficient aircraft in the world. In the course of the year, the fleet grows to twelve.
Condor redesigns the Comfort Class in its nine Boeing 767s. Highlights are the new seats with significantly increased space between them and an entertainment system with portable DVD players.
Thomas Cook becomes the first universally international tourist brand. Condor is transformed into the new brand: “Thomas Cook powered by Condor”. Condor and Condor Berlin aircraft in Germany are gradually given the new Thomas Cook design. In future, the fuselage section will feature Thomas Cook lettering, and the tail section will display the Thomas Cook logo. The reference to being “powered by Condor” makes it clear that the new airline brand has tried and tested Condor quality at its disposal. The first Condor aircraft to sport this new paint job took off in June 2002.
From May, the Thomas Cook AG airline in Germany is once again flying under the brand name of Condor. This “new Condor” is the first and so far only German airline to offer budget prices on longhaul routes. Flights to America, the Caribbean, Africa and Asia start at 99 euro.
In March, Condor Flugdienst GmbH celebrates its fiftieth birthday. Its exciting history is relived through a number of different campaigns. In the anniversary year of 2006, Condor flies a declaration of love around the world, the uniquely designed Boeing 757-300 called “Willi”, after Wilfried Meyer, who for 30 years was the defining influence for Condor’s image. On October 16, Condor welcomes on board its 150 millionth passenger since 1956.
Long-distance travelers can also look forward to a totally new in-flight experience with Condor. While renewing the cabin interiors of the Boeing 767 longhaul fleet, Condor introduces a new Premium Economy Class, in addition to the regular Economy Class. It has 15 centimeters more legroom than the normal Economy Class. A separate engineering workshop, Condor Technik GmbH, is established at Frankfurt airport to provide expert maintenance for Condor’s Boeing fleet.
Condor is the first German airline to fit the newly developed aerodynamic winglets to its Boeing longhaul aircraft. Extending the wing in this way reduces fuel consumption, as well as emission levels. Around 1,300 metric tons of fuel are saved per aircraft in the course of a year (4 to 5%). The first aircraft with the new aerodynamic winglets takes off in May 2009. The Boeing 757-300 aircraft are also fitted with winglets.
Condor and the relief agency “Luftfahrt ohne Grenzen” or “Wings of help” enter into partnership in June, having already successfully transported relief aid in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in Haiti in January. This was sealed with a major fund-raiser in collaboration with “The Peanuts”, and included decorating the Condor fleet with Peanuts characters. So Condor does not just give its fleet a new look, the Airbus A320 fleet also has a new cabin interior that is designed not only for maximum passenger comfort, but also for more fuel-efficient flying.
Since November, thanks to its collaboration with Copa Airlines and GOL, Condor has been able to operate services to many additional destinations on the continent of South America. In addition to this, Condor has been on Facebook since October, giving fans and customers the opportunity to find out more about Condor, with the latest news, travel tips, surveys and more besides.
The Thomas Cook Group plc decides to renew the shorthaul and longhaul fleets of all the airlines in the group. For Condor, this means replacing the existing Boeing 757 and Airbus A320 aircraft with around 30 new Airbus A320/A321 aircraft, within a five-year program. More Boeing 767s will also be added to the longhaul fleet during the expansion. In December, the Airbus A320 with registration D-AICA is given a nostalgic sixties paint job and christened "Hans", in honor of travel entrepreneur Hans Geisler.
In spring 2012, Condor moves into the newly-built company HQ in the Gateway Gardens district of Frankfurt; in May, the first Airbus A321-200 joins the fleet. Condor is still on course for growth and adds a further two Boeing 767s to the longhaul fleet, bringing the total number of aircraft to twelve. Condor is the first global customer to start trialing BoardConnect, an entertainment program that can be directly transmitted to mobile terminals in the aircraft via WLAN. Vienna becomes established along with Frankfurt as an additional departure airport for flights to Punta Cana (Dominican Republic) and Varadero (Cuba). Condor is the most popular German airline. Condor came out on top in a customer satisfaction survey run by the Deutsches Institut für Servicequalität (DISQ) in December 2012, and was the only airline to be rated "very good".
Within the Thomas Cook Group, Thomas Cook Group Airlines is made up of Condor and the airlines Thomas Cook Airlines UK, Thomas Cook Airlines Belgium and Thomas Cook Airlines Scandinavia. Since October 1, 2013, all the companies in the Thomas Cook Group have come together under a single symbol: the Sunny Heart. So the Sunny Heart appears on the tails of the aircraft of Thomas Cook Group Airlines to express their common identity. From October 2013 to summer 2014, the entire Condor longhaul fleet will gradually be fitted with a new cabin, with in-seat entertainment in all classes, and fully-automatic, comfortable reclining seats in the new Condor Business Class.