The largest major airlines in Germany are Lufthansa, Eurowings, Easyjet, and Ryanair. Tuifly, Condor, and Sunexpress are the top charter flight carriers.
Lufthansa remains by far the largest airline flying in Germany despite increasing competition from low-cost airlines. The second biggest airline in Germany is Eurowings, which is Lufthansa’s latest attempt to compete with low-cost airlines on the domestic and European short-haul market. Following the demise of Air Berlin, Easyjet became a major player in the German domestic aviation market. Like budget airline Ryanair, Easyjet also offers cheap flights from Germany to many other European destinations. Major German charter airlines that also sell seats directly to regular passengers include TUIfly, Condor, and Sun Express Germany.
Lufthansa — The Largest Airline in Germany
Lufthansa (LH) is by far the largest airline flying out of Germany and is the main brand in the larger Lufthansa Group that is amongst the largest airline companies in the world. Lufthansa operates flights in Germany under its own name as a full-service airline. It also uses Eurowings and Lufthansa City Airlines as budget and feeder airlines in Germany and mostly on European routes.
The Lufthansa Group controls other major European airlines including Brussels Airlines, Austrian, Swiss International Airlines, and Air Dolomiti. The Lufthansa Group operates over 400 aircraft and is responsible for more than half of all passengers flying via German airports. Lufthansa itself has a market share of just over a third and Eurowings around 15% of air passengers in Germany.
Lufthansa has more than 230 planes in operation and serves well over 200 destinations from Germany. Its main hub is Frankfurt International Airport (FRA) with Munich Airport (MUC) a major secondary hub — it actually serves more European destinations from Munich than from Frankfurt. Lufthansa also has major bases at Düsseldorf and Hamburg while the new Berlin-Brandenburg Airport (BER) should also be of increasing importance.
Lufthansa is unmatched for intercontinental flights from and to Germany but on European and domestic routes other airlines offer stronger competition. Lufthansa’s domestic flights in Germany are often to feed passengers to major hubs for longer flights. Top domestic routes for Lufthansa include the busy Frankfurt-Berlin route where it currently has no competition other than Deutsche Bahn trains and to a lesser extend Flixbus coaches. Domestic flights in Germany from the north to the south are also able to compete with trains in terms of time, such as Hamburg, Düsseldorf, or Berlin to München, although the Berlin-Munich train now takes only four hours.
Lufthansa is founding member of the Star Alliance network. Its frequent flyer program Miles and More is also shared with other airlines in the larger Lufthansa Group.
Eurowings – Germany’s Second Largest Airline
Eurowings (EW) is the second-largest airline in Germany and the largest low-cost carrier. Eurowings is fully owned by Lufthansa and mostly used on domestic and European routes to compete with other budget airlines. It operates over 60 aircraft to more than 140 destinations in Germany and Europe.
Eurowings flies both domestic routes in Germany as well as to Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. It offers a large number of destinations interesting to both business and holiday travelers, as destinations include many major city airports and not only holiday hot spots.
Eurowings allows for connecting flights, especially through its main hub in Düsseldorf.
As a Lufthansa-owned airline, Eurowings flights may often be booked as part of a Lufthansa intercontinental flight — mostly via Frankfurt or Munich — to bring travelers to smaller airports in Germany that Lufthansa does not serve under its own brand. Eurowings passengers qualify for Lufthansa Miles and More frequent flyer miles.
Eurowings fly to a very large number of German airports — some only seasonally — including Berlin (BER – from November 2020), Berlin-Schönefeld (SXF), Berlin-Tegel (TXL), Bremen (BRE), Dortmund (DTM), Dresden (DRS), Düsseldorf (DUS), Frankfurt/Main (FRA), Frankfurt-Hahn (HHN), Hamburg (HAM), Hannover (HAJ), Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden (FKB), Köln-Bonn (CGN), Leipzig/Halle (LEJ), München (MUC), Münster/Osnabrück (FMO), Nürnberg (NUE), Paderborn/Lippstadt (PAD), Saarbrücken (SCN), Stuttgart (STR), Sylt (GWT), and Usedom (Heringsdorf) (HDF).
Easyjet — Cheap Flights in Germany
Easyjet received a major boost in Germany when it took over many of the routes and hardware of AirBerlin that went out of business in 2017. As a result, Easyjet became a major player in the German aviation market competing with especially Eurowings on domestic routes inside Germany. It also offers flights to many other European destinations from German airports.
Domestic routes that EasyJet currently flies inside Germany (or airports close to the border) are particularly useful from Berlin with destinations including Stuttgart, Munich, Düsseldorf, Cologne, Salzburg, and Basel. Easyjet flights are also available from many other German airports including Hamburg, Dortmund, Dresden, and Friedrichshafen to other European cities.
Ryanair — Low-Cost Flights to Germany
Irish ultra-low-cost airline Ryanair has long been a major player in the German aviation market. Although the occasional domestic flight was offered in the past, the main destinations for Ryanair flights are to holiday destinations popular with German travelers in especially the Mediterranean Sea areas. From larger German airports, Ryanair often flies to other major European cities in competition with especially Eurowings and EasyJet.
Although Frankfurt-Hahn (HHN) and Düsseldorf-Weeze (NRN) remain important in the Ryanair network, the days are long gone that travelers had to drag out to these distant airports in the middle of the night to secure cheap flights. Ryanair now also flies to major airports including Frankfurt International but the best deals remain for the smaller airports (and inconveniently early or late hours).
Main German Charter Airlines
Several charter airlines operate in Germany with some of the biggest also offering seats for direct sale to passengers. These often offer great deals to holiday makers not on a package deal but willing to forego frequent flight availability (and sometimes odd traveling times) for low prices.
TUIfly (X3) belongs to Tui, the world’s largest holiday package company, but a large number of seats are available for regular passengers too. The majority of TUIfly flights are to popular holiday destinations in the Mediterranean region. TUIfly has around 30 aircraft in Germany.
Condor (DE), founded in 1955, is one of the oldest airlines in the world and operates around 40 planes. It has long been a very respectable and popular choice with flights from not only Germany to the Mediterranean but also to intercontinental destinations. Condor often flew to the USA and Canada too during the summer season. Although long associated with Lufthansa, Condor in recent years belonged to the now-bankrupt Thomas Cook. Condor is generally expected to survive, as an airline despite a deal with LOT felling through in April 2020 due to the uncertainty coronavirus introduced to the market.
SunExpress Germany (XG) is co-owned by Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines and flies from many German airports mostly to holiday destinations in Turkey, as well as other Mediterranean destinations in southern Europe and North Africa.
German airlines and brands that are no longer in operation include Germania and AirBerlin that went bankrupt, LTU that became part of AirBerlin, Hapag-Lloyd that was integrated into TUI fly, and the Germanwings brand that was discontinued by Lufthansa and mostly replaced by Eurowings.