February 4, 2020 @ 9:09 by Steven Hugill
A North East airport’s new German route will be a gateway to stronger international business connections and help catalyse tourism, senior officials have told North East Times.
Newcastle International Airport has hailed Lufthansa’s new Munich flights as the “icing on the cake” after the operator’s inaugural flight left the base yesterday (Monday, February 3).
The six-weekly service will provide a direct link to one of Germany’s key business hubs while offering passengers scope to connect to more than 130 destinations globally.
The non-stop flights build on Newcastle’s presence in the country – with Eurowings services already flying to Dusseldorf – and Leon McQuaid, head of aviation development, said the Munich connection represents a real coup.
“We have a wonderful schedule here and it is all about sustainable growth,” Leon (pictured second from right) told North East Times.
“We had strong demand into Munich because we have a lot of business links between our region, Bavaria and beyond.
“We talk to the travel trade, corporate membership bodies like the North East England Chamber of Commerce and the Department for international Trade, and we listen to what they have to say,” he added.
“Connections into Germany and Munich were mentioned a great number of times and there were a lot of businesses reaching out to see if we could achieve this aim, so to have a five-star airline coming into a five-star airport is the icing on the cake.
“Lufthansa has always been someone I’d really like to see here, so from a personal perspective it is really exciting – and it means a lot for the region too.”
Newcastle represents the airline’s seventh destination in the UK and Andreas Köster, Lufthansa Group’s senior director of sales for the UK, Ireland and Iceland, said he was delighted to bring the brand to the region.
He said: “We want to have a good coverage in the UK; it is an important market for the group.
“The North East was still a white spot for us – there is the service to Dusseldorf with Eurowings – but it was important for us to connect people here at Newcastle to one of our hubs, which gives you the connection to the world.
“It is about making sure our network is as efficient as it can be in the UK, and we are very confident it will be successful.”
Andreas (pictured third from right) also pointed to the business benefits of the new flights, highlighting the already strong connections between UK and German businesses, which include numerous relationships in the automotive sector.
He added: “It is a no-brainer that with this connection now into Munich – where one of Germany’s biggest car manufacturers, BMW – resides, the many companies that support the automotive industry in this area and the connection from Munich to Leipzig, for example, which is also an automotive city, will boost the industry.
“It will also help the corporates here to save travel time and have faster connections.
“Time is money; if you save time you have more efficiency.”
Councillor Iain Malcolm, leader of South Tyneside Council and lead of the LA7 local authority airport shareholder, also spoke on the day to welcome the carrier to the region.
He said: “The commencement of this new route is extremely positive news, not only for Newcastle Airport but also for the North East.
“Newcastle Airport remains the number one international gateway of choice for people travelling to and from the North East.”