Today in 1952, the government of post-war Germany voted to reinstate a national airline for Germany after suspension of passenger airline services during World War II. This initial step paved the “runway” for the creation of Aktiengesellschaft für Luftverkehrsbedarf or “LUFTAG” on January 6, 1953.
Following up on this approval, LUFTAG began to organize as an airline and started to build facilities in Cologne, create it’s structure and hire it’s employees. Also during this time in 1953, LUFTAG ordered 4 Lockheed 1049G Super Constellations (Super Connies) and four Convair 340s. The Convairs began joining the fleet in mid-1954 while the Super Connie’s began arriving in late 1958.
On August 6, 1954 LUFTAG formally changed it’s name to what we know today as Deutsche Lufthansa Aktiengesellschaft(AG) or “LH” for short!
On April 1, 1955 2 of Lufthansa’s new Convair 340’s (D-ACOH and D-ACEF) took to the skies and officially christened Lufthansa’s first regularly scheduled routes. To mark the inaugural routes, one of the Convairs flew Munich-Frankfurt-Cologne-Hamburg while the second Convair flew Hamburg-Dusseldorf-Frankfurt-Munich.
D-ACEF courtesy: Robin A. Walker
A Super Constellation at Munich Airport's Besucherpark (Visitor Park)
On August 28, 1919 representatives from 6 airlines gathered at The Hague, Netherlands to create the International Air Traffic Association . This association took on the responsibility of coordinating and standardizing international air travel (which began in 1919) and Postal Air Services. It was the fore-father to the modern day International Air Transport Association (IATA) that was founded in Havana, Cuba in April of 1945.
Germany’s Deutsche Luft-Reederei (what would become today’s Lufthansa) joined with 5 other European carriers to form the association who’s objective was to establish policies and procedures that would govern the member airline’s technical, logistical and operational processes.
The other 5 founding members of this alliance included:
Air Transport & Travel – Great Britain
Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij (KLM) – Netherlands
Svenska Luft Trafik A.B. – Sweden
Det Dankse Luftfartselskab – Denmark
Det Norske Luftfartsrederi – Norway
The original IATA never did gain far reaching oversight due to restrictions that were in place in the Ruhr and Rhineland regions as a result of the Treaty of Versailles that effectively ended World War I between Germany and the allied forces.
The IATA would be limited to European airline operations and primarily would focus on the regulation of Air Mail since it was the primary driver of Airline revenue at the time. Pan Am would become the first non-European member when it joined in 1939. However with the beginning of hostilities in Europe in 1939 that would lead to World War 2, the IATA’s activities were put on hold until the revised IATA was unveiled in Havana after the war.
40 years ago today, Lufthansa launched the world’s first ever cargo dedicated Boeing 747-200 Freighter on their cargo route between Frankfurt and New York’s JFK. A route that it would operate 6x/week with this single aircraft.
The aircraft, registered as D-ABYE was delivered to Lufthansa on March 10 of the same year and was “one of a kind” for several years to come. Ultimately Lufthansa operated 7 of these cargo dedicated queens of the sky. The most recent one entered service in 1988.
If you ever wanted to know why the 747 has a “bubble top”, read about it here.
Images of world’s first Cargo configured 747:
D-ABYE courtesy of JetPhotos.net
A happy 747.......
1955 was perhaps the single most important year in Lufthansa’s history. In 1955, Lufthansa finally emerged from post World War II Germany to become Germany’s national carrier and a global icon. Among all of the other “firsts” that took place during the historic year, on March 31 Lufthansa proudly opened it’s Maintenance Base in Hamburg.
The Early Days (all photos courtesy of Lufthansa):
Breaking Ground In 1953
One Of The First Visitors.....
Super "Connies" Fill The Hangar
Today Hamburg is home to Lufthansa’s Technik Headquarters. The facilities have been expanded over the years to accomodate their fleet and in addition, Technik uses Hamburg to work on non-Lufthansa aircraft as well. If you recall a few weeks ago, Boeing delivered the first 747-8i VIP model to an anonymous (Qatar Government!) buyer. This buyer will eventually bring their aircraft here to have Lufthansa install the majority of the interior.
Modern Day Technik Facility
Here is a link to Lufthansa Technik’s homepage that describes the Hamburg operation in much more detail. For an excellent brochure that goes into greater detail on the history of Technik, Click Here.
On March 17,1960 Lufthansa launched its first transatlantic non-stop service from Germany when Lufthansa’s First Boeing 707, named Hamburg (D-ABOB) took off from Hamburg, arrived at Frankfurt then proceeded non-stop to New York’s Idlewild Airport (Renamed to John F. Kennedy in 1963). Previously, Lufthansa’s transatlantic flights required a fueling stop in England or Ireland. This was also Lufthansa’s first Jet Aircraft to enter service.
Even though service did not start until 1960, Lufthansa had begun daily simulations of operating the Frankfurt-New York route in 1956. Known as “Operation Paper Jet”, Lufthansa’s flight operations department would simulate flights between Frankfurt and New York (and return) everyday for 4 years between 1956 and 1960. They would take into account real time weather data each day, as well as simulated load factors to perfect the route years before the route would go “live”. From 1956-1958, while the 707 was still in design phase and had no accurate data, Lufthansa would assume data from Boeing’s Dash 80 for its simulations. Beginning in 1958, enough data was in place for the future 707 which allowed Lufthansa to fine tune their strategies. Leave it to the Germans to be meticulous and thorough in their preparations!
This moment in Lufthansa’s history would change the airline forever. As the 707 fleet grew, Lufthansa was able to expand their timetable to include jet service to the West Coast of the US, Asia and to South America.
Lufthansa would ultimately operate 23 707 jetliners. 5 were the 707-430 versions delivered between 1960 and 1961 and the remaining 18 were 707-300B or 330C variants that were delivered between 1963 and 1970. The last Lufthansa 707 , known as Hannover (D-ABUF) was retired from the fleet on May 7, 1984.
Images Of Lufthansa’s First 707-430 (D-ABOB):
source: Lufthansa Archives
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