Condor Airlines is in the midst of its third summer flying nonstop to Frankfurt, Germany, from Pittsburgh International Airport. Recently, a delegation of Condor executives led by Carsten Sasse, Head of Sales, International Markets, visited Pittsburgh for business meetings. Blue Sky sat down with Sasse for a conversation.
Q: Tell us about the flight.
A: This is the third consecutive year for the flight. We connect Frankfurt nonstop with Pittsburgh with two weekly frequencies, Monday and Friday, from May 31 to Sept. 16.
Q: How is the flight doing?
A: Business is doing very well. We would like to extend the season or increase capacity [next summer] but that depends on some factors. That’s one of the reasons why we are here to talk with the local business community and to see where we can push our route.
Q: You have both business and leisure travelers. Do you focus on one category more than others?
A: Of course we love both. I would say we have more leisure travelers on the Pittsburgh-Frankfurt flight, but we have a great corporate presence for those who want to use the only nonstop flight between Pittsburgh and Germany.
A delegation from Condor Airlines tours Bosch’s Research and Technology Center in Pittsburgh’s Strip District on Tuesday. (Submitted photo)
Q: What should people know about Condor that they may not know?
A: Well, Condor started operations in 1956; we have been in the market more than 60 years. We are a German airline and fly to more than 70 international destinations on four continents. We have a huge program to North America, especially in the summertime. Pittsburgh is one gateway of this program.
Q: What options are available for people who are booking the flight?
A: Condor offers a three-class configuration with business class, premium economy class and economy class.
Q: What would be an ideal schedule from PIT to Frankfurt?
A: In the future, we would love to see a minimum operation of six months with a minimum of three frequencies per week.
From left: Bill Flanagan, host of “Our Region’s Business” on PCNC, is joined by Carsten Sasse, Condor’s head of sales for international markets and Vince Gastgeb, vice president for government and community affairs at Pittsburgh International Airport. (Photo credit: Matt Neistein)
Q: What would drive that growth? Is it bookings?
A: Of course. Actually, we have the same plan for next summer as we have this year, but this planning is still quite open. We want to see the success of the route. We are happy to be here for the third year. But we think in the future we really should increase service. If we bring all the pieces in the right way together – our fleet management, the local stakeholders – we are sure we can increase operations in the future.
Q: For you personally, this is your first time in Pittsburgh. What are your impressions?
A: It’s amazing. It’s a vibrant and dynamic city – and it’s quite green. We think this is a very nice place for Europeans to stay and come and visit. To see it is impressive. And we noticed the friendliness of the people.
Q: This may seem obvious to you, but will the flight be back in 2020?
A: Of course. It’s whether we can increase capacity next year or [have a schedule] similar to this year.
Q: What about the transatlantic competition in the Pittsburgh market?
A: I would say the picture changed a bit from last year. Some carriers left and another started. The competition has a different pricing picture so we are not afraid. There is enough space for all of us. It’s good to have competition generally if it fits in the market.