Charter flight

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The charter flight ( demand flight, order traffic or demand traffic , of charter , temporary transfer of an object against the payment of a usage fee) is, in contrast to the scheduled flight , the transport of people and goods to a destination specified by the customer only occasionally or on specific occasions. In international aviation law , the charter flight is called non-scheduled traffic . The term charter traffic is particularly common in air traffic; the equivalent in sea freight traffic is usually referred to as tramp shipping .

Differentiation from charter flights

Ad hoc charter

Alitalia planes are chartered from the Vatican for the Pope's trips abroad

Ad hoc charter (special flight, occasional flight) occurs when a client rents an aircraft at short notice for a one-off or short-term transport service. These unscheduled flights represent the original form of charter traffic. Many older charter airlines (such as Transocean Air Lines , BIAS or Young Cargo ), which were unable to conclude long-term transport contracts with their customers, carried passengers and / or cargo mainly on casual flights. The companies had to make a considerable effort in acquiring orders in order to secure the capacity utilization of their aircraft over the long term. Today these types of services are mainly implemented in business aviation and by numerous cargo airlines . In addition, scheduled airlines that otherwise do not operate charter flights also offer special flights. For example, Lufthansa rents aircraft to the DFB and uses them in charter operations to transport the German national soccer team . The UK Government frequently leases British Airways or Virgin Atlantic aircraft for the Prime Minister's overseas trips . The Concorde , which crashed on Air France flight 4590 , also carried out an ad hoc charter flight. The client in this case was the German shipping company Peter Deilmann .

Inclusive tour charter

Initially led Condor almost all IT charter flights for tour operators by

Inclusive tour charter (IT charter, tourist charter flight) is a transport service that an airline carries out on behalf of a tour operator in order to fly its customers to the booked holiday destination as part of a package tour . If only one tour operator rents the aircraft, it is a so-called full charter . If several tour operators split the seating capacity of a machine among themselves, one speaks of part charter (also called split charter or block charter ). In contrast to the ad-hoc charter flight, the airplanes in IT charter traffic usually operate on fixed routes for longer periods (for example for the duration of a holiday season). In common parlance, the term charter flight is often equated with the IT charter flight. Within IT charter traffic, a distinction can be made between inbound and outbound charter flights, depending on the flight destinations :

  • Inbound charter ("incoming charter traffic") occurs when an airline transports foreign package travelers to the country in which the company is based. For example, Turkish charter airlines transport holidaymakers from Central Europe to destinations in Turkey by inbound charter .
  • German charter airlines, on the other hand, almost without exception fly outbound charter (“outbound charter traffic”) by transporting travelers from Germany to holiday destinations abroad. Some Austrian and Swiss charter airlines used their aircraft in outbound charter in summer and also carried out inbound charter for foreign winter sports enthusiasts in winter .

Affinity group charter

Ports of Call Air also used Convair CV-990 to transport their club members

Affinity group charter (club charter, charter flights for tour groups) was a special form of tourist charter flight, which was implemented in particular by Canadian and US airlines as well as in transatlantic charter traffic. Many US airlines founded after the Second World War received the status of Supplemental Airlines from the authorities (meaning "additional airline"). Correspondingly classified companies were not allowed to set up fixed flight connections, offer tickets in retail sales or operate tourist charter flights for tour operators. This was reserved for US scheduled airlines. However, the supplemental airlines were allowed to carry clubs or associations on ad hoc charter flights if they rented an aircraft from the company directly. Airlines such as Trans International Airlines and Ports of Call Air then founded their own travel clubs in the mid-1960s and used them to market vacation offers for club members. The legal situation allowed the companies to carry the club travelers with their own aircraft. These requirements also applied to holidaymakers from Europe: While German package travelers had to start their USA holiday with a scheduled flight, tour groups could use a charter flight from Südflug or Atlantis , which was not subject to IATA price control. In addition, the group trips were exempt from taxes if the vacationers visited more than two locations in the USA or took part in a round trip . In order to take advantage of this price advantage, numerous private travel clubs were founded in Germany in the 1960s, and their membership declarations were displayed in travel agencies. After the deregulation of US aviation law in 1978, most of these travel clubs were dissolved.

Military charter

A leased by the US military Boeing 767 of Delta Airlines at the airport Frankfurt-Hahn

Military charter is the rental of a civil aircraft by a country's armed forces to carry crews or cargo. These transport services can be one-off or long-term and are not limited to times of crisis. As early as the 1950s, the Military Air Transport Service (MATS) was regularly placing tenders to use civil aircraft to supply US bases overseas. These military charter flights were particularly popular with supplemental airlines , which enabled them to utilize their aircraft for the long term. At the time of the Vietnam War , the MATS used a large number of rented civil aircraft as troop transports and on supply and evacuation flights. During the Second Gulf War , US troops were relocated to the Persian Gulf in chartered aircraft from Tower Air , World Airways and other airlines . In 2013, around 730 military charter flights were carried out via Hahn Airport alone , in which Delta Airlines , United Airlines and Atlas Air , among others , were involved.

Armed forces from other countries also hire civil aircraft. For example, Worldways Canada ran regular charter flights for the Canadian armed forces to Lahr Airport in the 1980s . The Bundeswehr uses chartered aircraft from civil airlines to relocate soldiers and equipment on missions abroad. From 2010, for example, an Antonov An-124 was rented several times to transport self-propelled howitzers to and from Afghanistan .

Cargo charter

Cargo charter (cargo charter) are unscheduled cargo flights that are carried out once or for a contractually defined period. Many, mostly smaller, cargo airlines are active in this business area , which, in contrast to the larger cargo lines like Lufthansa Cargo, neither have their own logistics centers nor the order volume to operate their aircraft on fixed routes over the long term. In order to use their machines to full capacity, the companies also carry out freight charters for other airlines and use their aircraft on their route networks in wet lease . Some companies such as Volga-Dnepr Airlines or Antonov Airlines have specialized in the transport of particularly large and / or heavy loads with aircraft of the types Antonov An-124 or Antonov An-225 . This includes, for example, the transport of a 190-ton generator with an Antonow An-225 from Frankfurt-Hahn Airport on August 11, 2009 . In addition to individual orders on an ad hoc basis, long-term contracts can also be concluded. For example, the airline Transamerica Airlines used its Lockheed L-100 Hercules in the 1980s for several months of charter operations in Guatemala , New Guinea and Sudan to develop oil fields .


A sub-charter occurs when an airline rents a machine with its crew from another airline and uses it on its own routes and under its own flight numbers. These short-term leases are often concluded when their own aircraft is under maintenance or when additional capacity is required in the main season. Due to the short period of use, the rented machines are usually not repainted. For Germany and Austria, the airline operating the subcharter does not need its own entry permit if the reason for the rental is the cancellation of an aircraft and the subcharter is limited to a maximum of five days.

The idea of ​​the IT charter flight

The charter airline LTE was created as a German-Spanish joint venture

The term inclusive tour charter flight (IT Charter) means that a tour operator at a airline rents on flights at their own risk places ( charters ). This takes place as part of a package tour organized by the tour operator , in which a hotel stay, a transfer from the destination airport and other services are bundled into a total package and sold for a total price.

In order to be able to transport holidaymakers more cheaply than in scheduled air traffic, tourist charter flights have been exempted from certain taxes and duties in some intergovernmental agreements. In order to protect the national scheduled airlines, which were previously mostly state-owned, the state permits for charter flights were linked to conditions such as:

  • A charter flight was only allowed to be offered in connection with a tourist service. This served to ensure that foreign currency flowed into the country.
  • The number of charter flights to a country was originally limited. Later there was a requirement that only as many charter flights were allowed to a tourist-active country as that country was allowed to fly to the country of origin of the charter. This was practically impossible to implement, as the number of holiday flights to the south was many times higher than the need in the opposite direction. Some countries, including Spain, therefore increasingly campaigned in the 1980s to involve more local companies in charter flights. As a result, charter airlines with multinational participation ( joint ventures ) such as Futura International Airways , Greenair , LTE International Airways , Sunexpress or Viva Air emerged .
  • Tourists who entered on a charter flight were only allowed to leave on a charter flight. Travel with different means of transport, for example with a cruise ship from Venice (Italy) to Athens (Greece) and back to Austria with a charter flight was subject to a special permit from the government.
The French Corsair used its Boeing 747-400 with up to 587 seats

The price advantage of the charter flight resulted from:

  • usually much narrower seating and thus a higher number of seats in the machines. The charter airline Corsair , for example, used its Boeing 747-400 with 587 seats in 2006, setting a record for this type of aircraft. In addition, some companies refrained from installing a galley in order to be able to transport more passengers.
  • a higher utilization of the space available, one expected utilization of around 80 to 90 percent.
  • Savings in administration and handling such as ticketing , i.e. the issuing of flight tickets. The tour operators usually did this themselves.
  • Guarantee acceptance of the total or partial flight capacity by the tour operator
  • Use of smaller airports that had low landing and handling fees (as low-cost airlines do today ).

The requirements of the IATA umbrella association did not allow scheduled airlines such as Lufthansa , Swissair or Air France to take part directly in charter traffic because the business models and sales channels of the two types of flight differ. Because of this restriction, numerous European scheduled airlines founded new company-owned companies in the 1950s and 1960s or converted existing subsidiaries into charter airlines. These charter subsidiaries, such as Condor Flugdienst , Balair , Sobelair or Scanair, were wholly or partly state-owned at the time, as were their parent companies . In addition, many private holiday flight companies emerged , such as Bavaria Fluggesellschaft , Britannia Airways , Conair , Court Line , Germanair , Hapag-Lloyd Flug or LTU and later Air Berlin , Aero Lloyd and Lauda Air .

Development of the IT charter flight

On March 29, 1956, a year after the occupying powers had transferred the Allied right of reservation of the approval of air traffic to the Federal Republic of Germany through the second German treaty , the first charter flights of the Condor flight service started, at that time still referred to as "air traffic".

As early as the 1980s, the strict separation between charter flights and scheduled flights began to weaken. Increasing competitive pressure caused the tour operators to offer the unsold remaining capacities of their allotments in single seat sales as so-called camping flights . These offers only included transportation on a charter flight, not the other services (hotel, transfer, etc.) of a package tour. In order to comply with the provisions of the International Air Transport Organization and those of the national supervisory authorities in the departure and destination countries, the package tour was initially formally maintained. For this purpose, the tour operator issued its customers a voucher (voucher for a service paid in advance) for simple quality hotel accommodation. The individual travelers were mostly only interested in a cheap flight and hardly used these vouchers. In some circles, these relatively worthless vouchers were therefore also cheat voucher called, although the service will be fulfilled at the request had. For entry into some countries (e.g. Cuba ) a corresponding hotel voucher (or cheat voucher ) is still required today.

Since the standardization and liberalization of EU aviation law in 1993, numerous charter airlines have joined the scheduled flight association IATA and have since offered holidaymakers direct single seat sales. In many cases, a clear separation between charter and scheduled airlines is no longer possible today. For example, the former charter airline Air Berlin operated daily scheduled flights to Mallorca (known as Mallorca-Shuttle ). From the mid-1990s onwards, the LTU also began using its aircraft on scheduled routes to destinations such as the Canary Islands .

With the creation of EU aviation law, the national aviation rights of the EU states were suspended and numerous regulations in air transport were repealed. While in the 1980s airlines such as the British Air Europe or the Belgian Trans European Airways still had to set up subsidiaries in order to offer charter flights from other European countries, today EU-based airlines can largely take full advantage of the freedom of the air and operate their aircraft within the Use the EU single market . In the mid-1990s, this led to the market appearance of so-called low-cost airlines such as Ryanair or EasyJet , which now operate Europe-wide route networks and also fly to the classic holiday regions on the Mediterranean .

With already 90–95% online bookings in 2004 , the low-cost airlines are consistently leaving one of the last traditional ways of the tourism industry , sales through travel agencies . With the commission saved and with their no-frills concept (lowest prices, no extras), you can operate at a significantly lower price on the market.

The term charter flight is still used, but has largely been robbed of its actual meaning. However, from a legal point of view, there are still differences between the transport of passengers in charter and scheduled flights. At some airports, scheduled or charter flights are restricted or prohibited by law. Operating a flight with liner rights can have advantages during off-peak times and at night, for example in the event of a delay. However, contingents of the flight can be chartered out to a tour operator. In 2012, 7.84 million Germans went on vacation by charter aircraft.

See also

Web links

Commons : Charter Airlines  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Lufthansa: Boeing 747-8 flies German national team to Danzig ( Memento from December 30, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
  2.  ( page no longer available , search in web archives ), Dailymail online, 23 September 2009.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /
  3. ^ Leisure Airlines of Europe, K. Vomhof, Newcastle-upon-Tyne 2001.
  4. ^ Charter Organizers and Tour Operators: Air Carriers or Ticket Agents under the Federal Aviation Act of 1958 by Beth E. Wortman, 1975; Fordham Law Review Volume 44 Issue 1 Article 6; accessed on May 3, 2019.
  5. Clear sky . Der Spiegel, March 31, 1969, accessed on May 3, 2019.
  6. Battle for the Passenger , Die Zeit, September 27, 1968, accessed on May 3, 2019.
  7. 351 F.2d 1001, No. 271-60, United States Court of Claims, October 15, 1965.
  8. ^ "Civilian" military aviation and war profiteering at Hahn airfield ,, accessed on May 3, 2019.
  9. ^ Artillery reserve for northern Afghanistan. , Bundeswehr website, Kunduz, February 4, 2011, accessed on May 3, 2019.
  10. Iata "keeps fares down" Flight International, January 15, 1983, accessed on May 3 of 2019.
  11. Summary of the provisions on entry and exit of aircraft in the area of ​​the Federal Republic of Germany, NfL I 99/09 of April 9, 2009 (PDF) ( Memento of December 30, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
  12. ^ Code of Federal Regulations of the United States of America, January 1, 1967.
  13. ^ Aero, issue 72, year 1984.
  14. jp airline-fleets international, Edition 2005/06.
  15. ( Page no longer available , search in web archives: Flight International, March 19, 1970, p. 439 )@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /
  16. 4 liter campaign of the aviation industry , Institute for Sustainable Tourism, January 16, 2013, accessed on May 3, 2019.
  17. Sven Less: Three fan guns in the Holy Land. He made flying affordable: the German charter flight is turning sixty. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, March 31, 2016, p. R2.
  18. Luftverkehrskunde, Dirk Aufermann, Münster 2012 (PDF) ( Memento from December 30, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
  19. Regulations for entering Cuba ,, accessed on May 3, 2019.
  20. What is a charter flight actually?