This Must Be The Most Random Transatlantic Route Ever…

In the past I’ve said that Providence, Rhode Island to Praia, Cape Verde, is one of the most seemingly random airline routes in the world. I know there’s a sizable Cape Verdean population in Providence, which explains the route, but I think a vast majority of people would have never guessed such a route exists.

However, I think I’ve found an even more “random” route. Earlier I wrote about how Alaska and Condor have a new partnership, which seems like a great way to earn Alaska miles for travel to Europe, given how attractive Condor’s fares are.

lufthansa-business-class-a320-10

Condor is a leisure carrier, so they don’t serve the traditional transatlantic markets served by many other airlines. For example, they don’t fly to Boston, Chicago, or New York, but instead fly to Anchorage, Las Vegas, and San Diego.

They also operate to several destinations in Canada, though there’s one destination that stands out as being especially random. Condor flies seasonally from Frankfurt to Whitehorse, Canada. From May through October, Condor operates a twice weekly service between Frankfurt and Whitehorse. Even crazier? Now that I’m researching it, the route has been operating for nearly two decades (though in the past the flight has sometimes operated via Alaska).

FRA-YXY

As reader Corey commented on the previous post:

If you do review them, you HAVE to fly the flight from Frankfurt to Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada. It’s really one of the most random lines on the map, and I’m really curious why on Earth Condor flies that route? Are that many German tourists interested in seeing the Canadian arctic?

Whitehorse seems to have a population of under 25,000 people. Best I can tell, Whitehorse is otherwise only served by Air North (to destinations like Inuvik and Old Crow), and by Air Canada regional jets.

Air-North-Destinations

So I imagine that the Condor 767 looks somewhat out of place when it lands there. Fares on this flight are quite good, starting at $310 one-way in economy, or $850 one-way in business class.

Condor

So can anyone make sense of this route that has been around for about two decades? I get it’s a beautiful part of North America, but who exactly is starting their North American trip there? I’m not questioning the financial performance of the route — clearly it does well, or else they wouldn’t be operating the route for two decades now — but I’d love to understand it better.

Fascinating stuff… I sort of want to take this flight.

Comments

  1. I worked for Canadian Pacific Airlines in YXY in the early 1970’s. During big game season, there was a large influx of German hunters. I would imagine this might be partially responsible for this route. The Yukon is a beautiful and historic area of Canada. Well worth the visit if you like nature, hiking, canoeing, etc.

  2. I have an even weirder one (not trans-atlantic, though). HY3511 (Uzbekh Airlines) flies seasonally between Tashkent and Christchurch (New Zealand) with a stop in KUL!

    (long-time lurker, first-time poster here… hi!)

  3. I used to live in the Yukon and I’m sure anyone else who has spent any time up there would tell you that yes, there are that many German tourists visiting the territory every summer.

  4. @Jeff – the Uzbekistan Tashkent Christchurch service was two one-off charters operated in 2013. It’s not a regular service, seasonal or otherwise.

  5. Wow this is really fascinating.
    Frankfurt-Whitehorse is the strangest flight route I’ve ever seen.
    Lucky, you have to take this flight and publish a review!

  6. Having worked in the tourism industry up there, I imagine that they do a week of land based tours, then connect to a cruise ship out of Anchorage (well, Whittier or Seward) down to Vancouver or Seattle.

  7. I am trying to pull the Condor flight up to check business class flights but it looks like it is operated by TACV Cabo Verde Airlines on a 757. Perhaps it is a Condor code-share!!

  8. @DAVID STEVENSON

    The Cape Verde flights are operated by TACV and have nothing to do with the Condor flights to the Yukon.

    Lucky had just previously written that he thought the TACV route from Rhode Island was the weirdest transatlantic route and now this Condor route is weirder still.

  9. Not surprising at all. We get a lot of Swiss, Germans, etc, tourists here in the Calgary area during the summer months. They rent RVs for weeks and drive to the Rockies, I wouldn’t be surprised they would do the same in Yukon to enjoy the more tranquil nature.

  10. Germans love their outdoor activities…I’m sure it’s serving a summer vacation market for fishing, hiking, paddling etc. That part of Canada is beautiful in the summer, and I’ve seen trips to the Canadian north advertised in Europe.

  11. All the commenters above who mentioned Germans traveling to Whitehorse are correct. I live in Anchorage and drive through Whitehorse twice a year, and I have a number of German friends. I also bicycled across Europe (including Germany) a few years ago, and I can confirm through first-hand experience that Germans (and Europeans in general) are fascinated by Alaska and Yukon. When on my bike trip, when asked where I was from, I never said the U.S. Instead, I always said I was from Alaska. When they heard that, they were without fail interested and wanted to strike up a conversation.

    So yeah, Germans, Condor, and the Yukon – a perfect match!

  12. Cheap prices can create the demand, being able to fly to Canada for $700RT and I am guessing the prices are not too expensive in Whitehorse, could be similar to RyanAir’s strategy of cheap flights creating demand. Plus Germans love outdoor vacations, another reason why they also fly to ANC

  13. RV’s. They are rented for a week, happens to match up with the flight frequency. My understanding is that the rentals sell out to Germans every year.

  14. Huge German inbound to more remote/natural/less developed parts of Canada. Condor also operates 3 or 4 times a week to Halifax, NS (YHZ) in the summers. Many Gemans own oceanfront property there.

  15. Yes, it’s definitely the tourist market from Germany and other European countries driving the demand for this flight as well as the Condor flights to Alaska. Despite having the Alps and other beautiful mountain ranges, western Europe doesn’t have the kind of vast wilderness that is found in AK and northern Canada. The Germans in particular seem keen to experience these wild, uncrowded lands and to see large mammals such as bears, caribou, and moose.

    People from AK and the Yukon also take advantage of these routes, as they offer an economical (in both time and money) way to get over to Europe in summertime.

    Westjet also serves Whitehorse (via YVR and YYC) May to Oct.

  16. Regarding Providence to Praia, Cape Verde, it also has a lot to do with Providence’s proximity to Boston.

    “There are an estimated 500,000 Cape Verdeans living in the United States. 430,000 of those are in New England, with Massachusetts being the state with the largest community.
    The only Cape Verdean consulate in the US is located in Boston, with 3 additional satellite offices throughout Massachusetts.”

  17. I grew up in Austria, and I flew VIE-FRA-YXY in the summer of 2001 when I was 17 to visit my cousin who lived in Whitehorse. It was my first transatlantic trip, and my first time in North America!
    I (vaguely) remember the return flight with a stop at ANC to be particularly unpleasant, because everyone had to get off the plane, and we were escorted into some sort of transit facility, which was basically just a large room, with only one kiosk that neither accepted CAD nor credit cards, which annoyed a lot of passengers.

  18. Try this one for obscure: OAK-TER

    There’s a community in the Central Valley of California with origins in the Azorean island of Terceira. Oakland is the nearest international airport. SATA/Air Azores has flown this route once weekly the past few summers.

  19. I got what looks like a really nice flight from OPO to TER to BOS, with 22 hours in TER to check out the Azores (but a longer stopover would have been nice). After seeing posts here I can understand why Azores Air/SATA is beginning a regular route to BOS.

  20. condor also flew to providence all last summer!
    cape verdes islands are off the coast of africa. they are black. the azores are between mainland portugal and bermuda, and are brown. the mainlanders are fairly white, except from some moorish mixed bloods. cape verdeans make up a small portion of portugese u.s. speakers. my next door neighbor in providence was azorean, and couldn’t speak a word of english, yet owned his home. signed with an “x” illiterate in port. too. he’s dead, but told me he dropped out of school in 4th grade(normal in those days) 1 out of 10 rhode islanders(100,000) are portugese speaking. combined with fall river,(12 miles s.e.) and new bedford, MA(30 miles s.e.)(45,000 est.+40,000est.) this 42 mile radius contains the largest concentration of port. speaking(2 races+1 sub-race) outside of portugal and brazil. it’s called the prov., fall river, new bedford MSA, according to the u.s. census. very few portuguese speakers can afford to live the the boston metro.
    there is a consulate general of portugal located at 56 pine st. providence, RI 02903
    it just plainly costs less to fly out of providence(the safest FAA tower in the US), cause the landing fees are lower. that’s why norwegian just awarded prov. exclusives for eastern new england.(where i lived till 1994)

    my masters is in urban and regional planning, u. of. colorado 1977

  21. Germans LOVE the Yukon. Here’s an excerpt that explains why. If you are connected with the Canadian tourism industry, this is not a strange route at all. Click the link to read the whole article.

    http://www.sarahefron.com/stories/germans.shtml

    “The books of Karl May and Jack London are a must read for most teenage boys in Germany,” says Mr. Gneiser. “To this day, they’re traded in the same way that Canadian boys trade hockey cards.”

    Many Canadian lodge operators are happy to fulfill the storybook fantasies. Sebastian Schnuelle, the German-born owner of Blue Kennels and Dog Sled Trips, of Whitehorse, says 80% of his customers are German or German-speakers from Austria or Switzerland.

    “A lot of books were written which entice people to come here, and we have to deliver what they read,” says Mr. Schnuelle.

    “This is what the Germans dream about — wide-open spaces, a river to paddle down, mountain-biking trips. It fits their idea of northern life.”

  22. Obviously the writer of this article is has not the slightest idea of Yukon and Condor services. Condor does fly to Boston, Chicago, Vegas, New York etc. If you had done your research you would know that. Furthermore you would have discovered that Yukon has been a destination for Europeans for a long time, due to pristine nature, the outdoors and of course its history the Gold Rush of 1898.
    Also Yukon is is serviced by Air Canada (AC as Canada’s national airlines has to uphold routes into the capitals of its provinces and territories), Air North and Westjet.
    All of this begs the question why even post an article like this?

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