Route Analysis: Frankfurt-St. Louis

Credit: Oliver Roesler

Nonstop flights from mainland Europe to St. Louis Lambert International (STL) will resume later this year for the first time in nearly two decades.

Germany’s flag-carrier Lufthansa plans to serve the city—the second largest in the US state of Missouri—from June 1, flying three times per week from its Frankfurt (FRA) hub. The transatlantic route will operate on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays using Airbus A330 aircraft.

Although defunct Icelandic LCC Wow Air offered a limited scheduled service between Reykjavik Keflavik (KEF) and St. Louis from May 2018 to January 2019, the US city has otherwise been without regular flights to Europe since the early 2000s.

The last nonstop to continental Europe was on TWA to Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) in September 2001, while American Airlines ended service to London Gatwick (LGW) two years later.

The arrival of Lufthansa marks a big win for local stakeholders in St. Louis, including regional business group Greater St. Louis Inc. and the St. Louis County Port Authority, which put together an attractive incentive package to help secure the new long--haul flights.

Lufthansa is in line to receive around $5 million in subsidies over two years if it maintains the international connection, while St. Louis Lambert has agreed to waive 18 months of landing fees.

Although the cost to lure the Star Alliance member may seem high, the US city believes the route could add between $50 million and $100 million per year to a region’s economy, strengthening trade links and positioning St. Louis within one stop to just about anywhere in Europe.

The route will also build on the area’s existing ties to Germany, which includes being home to the Seeds and Traits headquarters for the Crop Science division of multinational Bayer.

Data provided by Sabre Market Intelligence shows that Frankfurt was the third-largest market from St. Louis in 2019 after Paris and London, with O&D traffic totaling 16,000 two-way passengers. This compares with 37,400 to London and 17,700 to Paris.

Although the volume of St. Louis-Frankfurt traffic was relatively low for a point-to-point route, Lufthansa will be seeking to capture a significant share of the passengers flying indirectly to Europe, given the onward connectivity it offers from Frankfurt. St. Louis--Europe traffic in 2019 amounted to some 280,000 two-way passengers.

As well as attracting leisure and business traffic, the Star Alliance member will also be able to tap into VFR demand, particularly from Bosnia. The wider St. Louis metro area has the largest Bosnian population outside their homeland at about 70,000 people.

David Casey

David Casey is Editor in Chief of Routes, the global route development community's trusted source for news and information.