A dispute has been smoldering between Lufthansa and Condor for a long time, which is being carried out in various places. The result of the Bundeskartellamt's preliminary examination of the feeder flights is unequivocally in favor of the holiday airline, but it also raises fundamental questions.
For example, the competition authority assumes that long-distance buses and trains are not attractive feeders to long-haul flights. With this, the Bundeskartellamt gives the German government a real slap in the face for the “rail mania” because some politicians are even in favor of a ban on domestic flights.
The real right to "shared use" of the Lufthansa feeder flights at more favorable conditions could have repercussions. If the Bundeskartellamt’s view is upheld, then other airlines could sue if necessary and then the Kranich Group would have a serious problem, because suppose some long-haul competitors or even Ryanair insist on being allowed to use the Lufthansa Group’s domestic German flights as feeders?
From Lufthansa's point of view, the preliminary decision of the Federal Cartel Office is therefore highly problematic and it can be assumed that as the proceedings progress, the authority will try to come to a different conclusion. If not, then a lawsuit up to the European Court of Justice is to be expected, because it is about fundamental issues and the core question of whether other airlines have the right to use feeders of a dominant company. This is the case with telephone connections, because Deutsche Telekom also has to lease its lines to competitors. When things go like they do in the telecommunications industry, where the regulatory authority sets the price, things get complicated.
Conversely, Condor is in the quite complicated situation that it used to be the "holiday department" of the Lufthansa Group. Accordingly, it was a matter of course that the daughter could use the mother's flights as a feeder. At some point, however, the crane decided that warm-water flights and tourists were no longer needed and parted with Condor. Lufthansa then realized that it would not be possible without the leisure business and got back on board with Eurowings and Eurowings Discover. But the "rejected" daughter Condor was already there. So why should you “deliver” passengers to the competitor when you can also put them on the company’s own long-haul jets?
For Condor, the feeders are indeed vital to survival, which is why Lufthansa is taking such vigorous action against the termination of the contract. One can also accuse the holiday airline that the management has been snoring in the pendulum clock for many years or was naïve, because anyone who uses the services of a third party also becomes dependent. Condor would have had enough time to set up its own feeder network and either use the Airbus A320 itself, which it has, or bring in the appropriate turboprops as part of wet lease agreements. That would have ensured internal German competition. But they didn't do that, they always relied on Lufthansa, even though there were clear signs that the crane wanted to "conquer" the Condor business itself.
Whichever way you look at it, the issue of domestic German feeder flights has a number of interesting facets on both sides. Ultimately, it will probably come down to the fact that a supreme court will ultimately have to decide. Too many fundamental questions that are of enormous importance for both Condor and Lufthansa need to be clarified. Unless one agrees on the “green table” and buries the “legal hatchet”. Will that still happen?