Lufthansa is celebrating it 55th year connecting South Africa to Germany. Photo: Lufthansa/ Matthew Kannia
 On 14 May 1962 Lufthansa launched its Frankfurt to Johannesburg flight, which took 16 hours and included 4 stops - Athens, Khartoum, Nairobi, and Salisbury (Harare)

·       Lufthansa Group’s weekly flights between Germany and South Africa have increased from 2 in 1962 to 24 in 2017

·       Lufthansa will increase its flight service between Frankfurt and Cape Town to 5 weekly flights from October 2017

·       Lufthansa Group subsidiary, Eurowings will enter the South African market from November 2017

 On 14 May 2017, Lufthansa German Airlines, one of Europe’s largest airlines, celebrates 55 years of successful operations in South Africa. Lufthansa launched its scheduled operations between Germany and South Africa on 14 May 1962. 

“For 55 years, Lufthansa has connected South Africa to the world, and the world to South Africa,“ said Dr. Andre Schulz, Lufthansa Group General Manager for Southern Africa. “We are proud to have played a major role in connecting South Africans over the past 55 years, whether for business or leisure, to our ever-expanding worldwide network.” 

55 years since Lufthansa’s first flight to South Africa 

In 1962 Lufthansa German Airlines commenced operations from Frankfurt to Johannesburg through a series of intermediary stops in Africa using the Boeing 720B, the industry’s best long-haul aircraft at the time. The aircraft carried 116 people, including 28 first class and 78 economy class passengers, and 10 crew members. The South African service offered 2 weekly flights between Johannesburg and Frankfurt, with four connections via Salisbury (Harare), Nairobi, Khartoum and Athens; and took 16 hours to complete. 

Today, both Johannesburg and Cape Town are serviced by the Lufthansa Group’s airlines, Lufthansa, SWISS, and Edelweiss, with 24 weekly flights to South Africa. Lufthansa’s Johannesburg Frankfurt flight now uses the state-of-the-at Boeing 747-8, which carries 384 people – 8 First Class passengers, 80 Business Class, 32 Premium Economy Class passengers, and 244 Economy Class passengers, with 20 crew members. The flight is now a direct service between Frankfurt and Johannesburg (eliminating the four original stops), with a flying time of 10 hours and 25 minutes. 

Compared to 1962, there are now 5 additional flights per week between Frankfurt and Johannesburg, carrying 268 more people per flight, and which is now 5 hours 35 minutes faster. 

Between 1962 and 1994, the city of Johannesburg was the airline’s only South African destination, however during 1994 Cape Town was added to Lufthansa's destination portfolio. Both Cape Town and Johannesburg are now serviced with yearly non-stop flights to various European destinations through the Lufthansa Group’s Frankfurt, Munich and Zurich hubs.  

Currently, the Cape Town route is serviced by three weekly flights from Frankfurt using a newly refurbished Airbus A340-300, which boasts 279 seats and offers the new Intercontinental Business Class (30), new Premium Economy Class (28), and Economy Class (221). “We are very proud to announce that the Frankfurt - Cape Town service will extend its frequency to 5 weekly flights from October 2017,” says Dr. Schulz.   
The seasonal Cape Town - Munich route is serviced with five weekly flights using an Airbus A340-600, which provides 281 seats, and incorporates 8 First Class, 56 Business Class, 28 Premium Economy, and 189 Economy class seats. 
“In addition, The Lufthansa Group is also proud to announce that a new airline will commence its European winter seasonal service to the South African market. Eurowings, the Lufthansa Group’s low-cost fully owned subsidiary, will commence its Cologne – Cape Town direct route from 5 November 2017. Flight EW 126 will depart Cologne at 15h00 on Sundays and arrive in Cape Town at 03h10 the following day; the return flight EW 127 will depart Cape Town on Mondays at 04h40 and arrive in Cologne at 16h45 the same day. The last flight of the season, flight EW 127, will depart Cape Town on March 26, 2018. The flights will be operated with an Airbus A330 with 17 seats in premium economy seats and 289 in economy. 

“This is just the next step in the Lufthansa Group strategy to increase its service offering to Southern Africa,” says Dr. Schulz.

Looking ahead to the next 55 years 

 “The era of digitalisation and personalisation within the travel sector is upon us. Travellers are and will continue to expect a greater degree of personalisation when it comes to their travel experience, and Lufthansa’s digitalisation strategy is one way by which we will continually meet and exceed our travellers expectations,” says Dr. Schulz. 

 “In addition, Lufthansa is proud to bring international best practice to the travel industry, through the introduction of new booking channels and processes to ensure our partners benefit from the changes within the global travel industry.   

“The next 55 years for the Lufthansa group’s South Africa service is extremely exciting. We look forward to continuing our growth in South Africa by providing and improving on our best in class travel experiences to travellers, as well as our best-practice industry processes and products. With the objective to continually improve our products and provide a better travel experience for our passengers, the next 55 years will no doubt see further investment and innovation. 

 “For nearly six decades Lufthansa has been a pillar of safety, reliability and quality. As a leading airline in technology and innovation, we look forward to continuing on this delivery to the South African market,” concludes Dr. Schulz.