As most major U.S. airlines are making money for the first time in decades, and the U.S. dollar's strength is adding value overseas to Americans, two foreign carriers are welcoming San Diegans aboard.
Starting May 8, German-based Condor Airlines starting flying three flights weekly from Lindbergh Field direct to Frankfurt International. The airline, which describes itself as a “leisure airline,” recently put up billboards around town.
According to their website a one-week trip to Frankfurt, booked two weeks in advance, would run $619.98 (including taxes), and offers one checked bag and one carry-on at no fee, a meal, and an in-seat entertainment system for the 12-hour flight. While San Diegans might enjoy a getaway to Europe, Condor’s English language website promotes its San Diego destination “for sun-seekers and surfers . . . an ideal holiday destination with around 300 days of sunshine a year.”
With a change of planes, San Diegans flying Condor can also reach eleven other destinations in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. Condor announced direct service to Germany would start soon from New Orleans and Pittsburgh. Currently there are 13 other North American cities served by the airline, but not all flights are direct.
Starting on June 9, another leisure airline, Edelweiss, an affiliate of Swiss Air, co-owned by Lufthansa, said it would begin flying from San Diego, nonstop, twice a week, to Zurich, Switzerland. It will be Edelweiss’ first nonstop destination in California. Both airlines have been compared to the U.S.’s Southwest Airlines in price and service.
“California is very popular among Swiss tourists,” said Bernd Bauer, CEO of Edelweiss, in a published report last June, when making the announcement. “Swiss travelers like to stay longer and spend more money during their time on vacation than visitors from other countries.”
Edelweiss expects to bring around 15,000 visitors to San Diego annually, creating an economic impact of around $50 million.
Edelweiss has committed to flying into San Diego two flights per week, on Mondays and Fridays. Both airlines expect their service into San Diego to be seasonal. Condor will reduce flights from three to two a week over the winter starting in November.
As the keynote speaker at San Diego’s annual Travel and Adventure Show, held at the convention center in March, CBS travel editor Peter Greenberg told his audience, “Only 52 percent of available seats are listed online.” He showed the group several airfares to European destinations, including early promotional fares for Condor and Edelweiss, for less the $200 round trip. Greenberg suggested to save money, look for airlines not normally found on the so-called discount booking websites (Travelocity, Kayak, Priceline, etc.), get off the computer and talk to a human being, as in calling the airline's own reservation system.