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Now departing for Europe! Lambert lands international flight

Lufthansa will offer a flight to Germany on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

ST. LOUIS — Now departing for Europe!

Lufthansa Airlines departs St. Louis for Frankfurt, Germany, starting Wednesday. For the first time in more than 20 years, St. Louis Lambert International Airport is truly “international” once again.

Lufthansa is offering three non-stop, direct flights to Frankfurt a week – Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. A ribbon-cutting was scheduled for Wednesday at 2:45 p.m. The first flight – the only flight, Wednesday – departed at 3:45 p.m.

Lufthansa will be operating out of Terminal 2, along with Southwest.

Airport director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge said Lambert has been working on an international flight for a long time. She believes Lambert was viable for Lufthansa considering the numbers Lambert saw pre-pandemic, and how many passengers Lambert expects to see this summer and beyond. She includes the growing need for some corporations to do business through Frankfurt, in Europe.

“This is something the community has been asking for, for a long time,” Hamm-Niebruegge said. “We need to prove we can serve an international market and it can consistently be strong.”

Lambert has not had any other regular flights to continental Europe in the last 20 years. There were regular connections in the TWA-hub days, and when WOW Airlines went into Iceland.

“This opens St. Louis to the world and the world to St. Louis,” St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones said. “If we want to move St. Louis forward, we need to move outside of our borders. Outside of our city, outside of our country.”

RELATED: St. Louis' inaugural Frankfurt flight is Wednesday. Here's why it will be out of Terminal 2, not Terminal 1.

This helps travelers access the rest of the world. 

“The Frankfurt area is the perfect place to start, take a cruise down the Rhine (river),” Don Bunkenburg, Lufthansa Airlines said. “From Frankfurt you can get to over 100 cities in Europe then add on Middle East and Africa and it really opens up a lot of possibilities."

There are also business benefits. 

“There’s a lot of agricultural technology here in St. Louis,” St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page said. “Geospatial business is a part of our brand.”

“St. Louis is turning out,” Said Andy Taylor, executive chairman of Enterprise Holdings & Greater St. Louis Inc. “It’s a great place to have a business, a sporting team and now a direct flight to Europe. I think when things are easier they will tend to fly more.”

Taylor's employees are excited to have a direct route to the rest of the world to do business. On the first return leg of the route, St. Louis business leaders are sending a trade delegation to Germany to find new revenue streams for our region. 

Lambert used an incentives package to attract Lufthansa, competing with other cities like Austin, Nashville, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.

Hamm-Neibruegge said the incentives package is $6 million. The airport will pay Lufthansa’s landing fees for 18 months. She said that $1 million is a standard international incentives package for a 2-year commitment.

Greater St. Louis Inc. and the economic development partnership are each contributing up to $2.5 million. In order to take advantage of all of that, Lufthansa would have to operate 5-7 days a week.

Lufthansa will be arriving and departing out of Terminal 2, along with Southwest. Having a European connection puts the airport in a different league. Hamm-Niebruegge said such incentives are the cost of doing business.

“The first two years is critical as they build that market share up, and we’ve seen what other packages have been around the country – in markets like Austin, Nashville, Indy, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati. All of those markets have had a much more competitive offer on the table from their surrounding regions. And I think that shows an airline that you want to make this flight successful,” Hamm-Niebruegge said.

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