(November 20, 2014) - With German electronic dance music resonating through the main terminal, a crowd gathered last week at Tampa International Airport for the announcement that Lufthansa will begin five-day-a-week non-stop air service between Frankfurt and Tampa beginning Sept. 25, 2015.
Frankfurt is the largest of Lufthansa’s five hubs, offering easy connections to more than 145 destinations in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
“Starting next year, we can fly from this very terminal to Frankfurt to South Africa to India, all with one connection,” said Airport CEO Joe Lopano. “We are now plugged into the most powerful hub in the world with one of the best airlines in the world.”
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who jokingly referred to himself as oberbürgermeister (lord mayor in German), called the new flights a huge victory for Tampa Bay.
On past trade missions to Germany, Buckhorn said that numerous companies were interested in coming to Tampa but were held back by a lack of a direct flight. This new partnership removes that obstacle.
“Tampa is an amazing place,” he said. “It is a place that has received German tourists and German business people for decades. We treasure that relationship and it just got a lot easier.”
“This results in jobs, that results in opportunities. It results in Tampa playing on the international stage like we have never done before.”
The new service increases the potential for new trade partnerships by tapping into one of the most powerful economic engines in Europe and will boost the region’s travel and tourism industry. The flights are expected to have an economic impact of $97 million a year, according to ICF International.
The service will operate using the Airbus A340-300. Flight LH 482 will leave the Lufthansa hub in Frankfurt at 11 a.m. and arrive in Tampa at 3:50 p.m. after a roughly 11-hour flight. The return flight will leave Tampa at 5:20 p.m. and arrive in Frankfurt at 8:45 a.m. the following day.
The Lufthansa flight will offer 298 seats in business, premium economy and economy class, providing its latest cabin layout. Seats in the new business class transform into comfortable beds with a sleeping area of 6.5 feet. Premium economy class now offers more space and legroom. Passengers in all classes will have access to a wide range of entertainment, including an individual in-flight entertainment system and wireless broadband Internet.
Bob Rohrlack, CEO of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, complimented the work of the airport team and community players involved in recruiting the service, saying the airport deserves tremendous support because of the economic impact of these flights.
“The significance of the commerce of Europe’s economic engine in Germany connecting to Florida’s economic engine in Tampa Bay cannot be overstated,” he said. “This is strong for both of us.”
Chris Steinocher, CEO of the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce, reiterated the economic importance. “This allows our businesses to grow, allows our businesses to sell products across Europe in an easier, more economical fashion,” he said. “Today’s a big day.”
Santiago Corrada, the CEO of Visit Tampa Bay, said his organization will work to grow travel from Frankfurt to Tampa.
“We pledge that, not only financially, but with sweat equity, marketing, we will make sure that you are really, really successful,” he said.
David Downing, interim executive director of Visit St. Pete/Clearwater, highlighted the collaboration between area leaders.
“This is a huge day for Tampa Bay – Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater,” he said. “It really is about partnership.” He called this new flight a “game changer” for Tampa Bay. “It will throw into high gear our entire Germany and central European operations,” he said.
Robert Watkins said that the announcement of new services like Lufthansa is the reason why the airport is embarking on a major new expansion which will dramatically change the face of the airport.
“We’re going to be doubling our capacity over the next 20 years,” he said. “We’ve got to be prepared for that. One of the reasons we’ve got to be prepared for that is that this team is bringing home people like Lufthansa.”