It’s official. On a rather gloomy December day, the St. Louis region received some amazing news. Lufthansa is launching nonstop flights between its hub in Frankfurt (FRA) and St. Louis-Lambert International Airport (STL).
Lufthansa to Serve St. Louis, MO Beginning in June 2022
For the first time in 19 years, St. Louis, Missouri will have a nonstop flight to continental Europe. Beginning in June 2022, Lufthansa will operate 3x weekly nonstop flights between Frankfurt and St. Louis. A reputable source first reported on this new service late yesterday evening in a now-deleted Tweet. This morning, those initial reports were confirmed in a Lufthansa press release in which the airline highlights its Summer 2022 schedule. Finally, at around 2:30 PM, the news was made official during a press conference in Downtown St. Louis.
Nonstop service between the two cities begins June 1, 2022, and will operate year-round. Flights will be available thrice weekly on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Lufthansa will utilize an Airbus A330-300 on this route. The A330-300s utilized on flights between Frankfurt and St. Louis will feature economy, premium economy, and business class. More information about the new route can be found below:
Lufthansa St. Louis to Frankfurt Flight Information:
- Nonstop service commences June 1, 2022
- Flights operated year-round
- Flights operate on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday
- Flight LH448 departs Frankfurt at 10:45 AM and arrives at 1:45 PM in St. Louis
- Flight LH449 departs St. Louis at 3:45 PM and arrives the next day at 7:45 AM in Frankfurt
- Aircraft type is Airbus A330-300 featuring economy, premium economy, and business class
Nonstop flights between the two cities are already loaded into Lufthansa’s schedule and are available for customers to book. There is already some award availability should you wish to book using United MileagePlus miles.
A Brief History of Nonstop Service between St. Louis and Europe
St. Louis-Lambert International Airport is often viewed as a shell of its former self. This is no surprise considering that the airport was at one time the 25th busiest airport in the world by passengers served. In 2000, the airport recorded 30.5 million passengers. This figure made it busier than Toronto-Pearson (YYZ), Singapore International Airport (SIN), and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) for the calendar year in 2000.
St. Louis’ presence as a major international airport was thanks to its status as Trans World Airlines’ (TWA) primary hub. The now-defunct US airline operated a fortress hub at St. Louis-Lambert International Airport for over two decades. As a result, St. Louis managed to enjoy nonstop service to both London-Gatwick (LGW) and Paris Charles-de-Gaulle (CDG) for many years. For some time during the 1980s through 1990, the airline even operated nonstop flights between St. Louis and Frankfurt.
However, St. Louis-Lambert International Airport’s status as a major US airport would soon be lost. TWA filed for bankruptcy in January 2001. Shortly thereafter, TWA was acquired by American Airlines which already had a well-established Midwest hub at Chicago-O’Hare (ORD). It was clear that St. Louis would not hold out as a hub under American Airlines.
The final flight between St. Louis and continental Europe took place in late 2003. Since then, there have not been any regularly scheduled nonstop flights between St. Louis-Lambert International Airport and continental Europe. It was not until 2018 that the airport would land nonstop service to Europe.
In May 2018, the now-defunct ultra-low-cost carrier WOW air launched nonstop flights between St. Louis-Lambert International Airport and Reykjavik-Keflavik International Airport (KEF). At one time, WOW air operated daily nonstop service between the two cities utilizing an Airbus A321. While the service was well-received, it was short-lived.
After years of rapid, unsustainable expansion throughout North American and Europe, WOW air began to experience significant financial troubles. In October 2018, despite relatively strong summer load factors, WOW air announced that it would end service to St. Louis in January 2019. At the same time, the airline announced that it was ceasing service at a number of other US airports. In March 2019, WOW air abruptly ceased all operations as a result of ongoing financial issues.
Since early 2019, St. Louis-Lambert International Airport had been without any nonstop service to Europe. Additionally, 2003 marked the last year with nonstop service to continental Europe. Finally, after 19 years, St. Louis will once again see nonstop flights to continental Europe.
Why Launch Flights Between St. Louis and Europe Now?
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to delay the recovery of international air travel. Numerous routes have already been delayed as a result of increasing COVID-19 cases and decreased demand for international air travel. American Airlines recently delayed the start date of its new nonstop flights between Seattle and Bangalore, India indefinitely. However, airlines continue to beef up their schedules for Summer 2022. Lufthansa is no exception.
As part of the airline’s efforts to increase its international footprint, Lufthansa is adding new routes and increasing existing services beginning in Summer 2022. One of these new routes is between Frankfurt and St. Louis.
For many, it may seem odd for Lufthansa to want to add flights to a city like St. Louis. However, the St. Louis region is home to a number of multi-national companies, some with connections to Germany. Additionally, Lufthansa enjoys a first-mover advantage in connecting the region, which is home to almost 3 million inhabitants, to continental Europe.
It is worth noting that the route is subsidized by both regional governments and private companies. According to the St. Louis Business Journal, Lufthansa will receive $5 million in incentives as part of its nonstop flights to St. Louis. Half of these incentives will come from regional governments while the other half will come from private companies including Enterprise Holdings, Centene Corp., and NestlePurina. Incentives like the $5 million offered to Lufthansa as part of its new nonstop service make operating new international services more appealing and economically feasible.
Second, the St. Louis region is home to a few companies with very strong ties to Europe. Most notably, Bayer A.G. operates its global headquarters for its plant science division in suburban St. Louis. St. Louis is also home to the North American headquarters of the world’s largest brewer, Anheuser-Busch. While Anheuser-Busch was founded in St. Louis and the company considers the city its headquarters, Anheuser-Busch actually operates as a subsidiary of AB InBev. AB InBev is headquartered in Belgium. Brussels is a short 55-minute flight from Frankfurt.
Ultimately, the lack of nonstop service to the region combined with the region’s somewhat close ties to Germany makes Lufthansa a relatively good fit for the region.
The Bottom Line
This is fantastic news for the St. Louis region. As a St. Louisan, it is quite exciting to see new nonstop service to Europe. However, this announcement goes beyond civic pride. For one, these new flights make it much easier for someone in the region to reach Europe and even destinations across Africa and the Middle East. Finally, as a points and miles enthusiast, I see an opportunity to use this new flight as a way to redeem United MileagePlus miles for a flight to Europe.
These new nonstop flights between St. Louis and Frankfurt are already on sale. Travelers can begin booking flights using either cash or frequent flyer points or miles.
What do you think of this new route? Are you happy to see new nonstop service between the Midwest and Europe?
(Featured image contains media from Lufthansa Group)