- Aero Lloyd was a German charter airline that operated from 1981 to 2003.
- The airline faced financial difficulties in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
- Attempts to revive the airline through reorganization, such as establishing Aero Flight in 2004, were unsuccessful.
Aero Lloyd was a German charter airline initially headquartered at Frankfurt Airport (FRA). It was established in 1979 and commenced operations two years later. The airline operated until 2003, when it faced funding issues. So, what ultimately became of this carrier?
Early days and its Caravelle fleet
Founded on September 6, 1979, the airline took to the skies in March 1981, initially deploying three Sud Aviation Caravelle aircraft, French jetliners originally developed in the 1950s. From the early years of operation, the airline was on a promising trajectory, expanding its fleet by incorporating three more McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30 aircraft, which had previously been in service with Garuda Indonesia. Aero Lloyd primarily offered charter services to Mediterranean holiday destinations during its initial years of operation.
1986 proved particularly successful for the airline as it expanded its fleet and shifted its business strategy. Aero Lloyd started receiving McDonnell Douglas MD-80 aircraft, which were more capable and utilized to introduce new destinations.
According to data from Planespotters.net, the airline operated a total of 22 McDonnell Douglas DC-80 family aircraft throughout its existence, comprising two MD-82s, four MD-87s, and 16 MD-83 twin-engine planes.
Subsequently, in 1988, Aero Lloyd shifted its focus from offering charter service to scheduled operations. It launched scheduled services to London, Paris, and Zurich with the newly acquired aircraft that could accommodate between 114 and 168 passengers. However, in 1992, the airline’s management found that the shift in business strategy had been a mistake and reverted to charter operations.
A challenging decade before collapse
After the shift in strategy, Munich-based German bank BayernLB acquired a 66% stake in Aero Lloyd. Initially, the plan was to sell the airline to a strategic buyer. But the Munich-based bank struggled to find interested buyers, especially since they were also the largest lender.
By the year 2000, the airline’s return on sales had fallen below 1%, which was below the industry average. In 2001, BayernLb had to provide a €20 million loan to ensure liquidity. Taking inflation into account, €20 million would be equivalent to €32 million in today’s currency.
Although Aero Lloyd managed to capture a market share of approximately 12% in 2002, it grappled with market overcapacities. Eventually, BayernLB decided not to fund the airline anymore, subsequently ceasing its operations in 2003.
There were attempts to reorganize the airline. In 2004, Aero Flight was established and inherited some of Aero Lloyd’s previously operated Airbus A320s and A321s. However, the airline could not remain financially viable and ceased operations in 2005. At the point when the airline was teetering on the brink of collapse, Aero Lloyd employed 1,400 staff and operated flights to 60 destinations in 13 countries with a fleet comprising 20 Airbus aircraft, according to BBC.
What are your thoughts on this charter airline? Have you ever flown with Aero Lloyd or spotted its aircraft? Let us know in the comments section below.
Sources: BBC, Planespotters.net, Airline History