Condor Airlines soon to fill demand for direct flights from New Orleans to Europe _lowres

Condor Airlines will soon offer direct flights from New Orleans to Germany.

New Orleans’ tourism bureau will put $300,000 in marketing muscle behind new seasonal flights that will link the city to Germany starting next spring.

“We are going to try to keep this plane filled every day, both ways,” Stephen Perry, president and CEO of the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau, said Thursday as German airline Condor officially announced twice-weekly flights to Frankfurt as reported by The New Orleans Advocate.

The nonstop transatlantic airline service is the first in decades for New Orleans and gives Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport a long-awaited gateway to many more markets on the continent.

Frankfurt offers connections to more than 120 destinations in Europe, said Titus Johnson, vice president of North America and the Caribbean for the Thomas Cook Group, Condor’s parent company.

The timing is right for the announcement, coming a week before the city will host the IPW, the U.S. Travel Association’s annual trade show, which is returning to the Crescent City after 14 years.

The convention is expected to draw more than 6,000 attendees from 73 countries, including more than 1,300 international and domestic travel buyers and hundreds of travel writers. Overseas tour operators and wholesalers are looking to buy in bulk and repackage vacations to sell to international tourists, who tend to rely more on travel agencies for booking trips.

For years, local business leaders have worked to land a large international carrier that could offer service to premier European destinations like London or Paris.

Targeting international travelers is a smart play for the city’s tourism industry, officials say, because those travelers tend to stay longer — typically as long as 18 days — and spend more during their visit, according to the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau, which books conventions for the city.

The flights to Frankfurt will be on Sundays and Wednesdays from May through October.

Johnson said the carrier will offer one-way fares from New Orleans to Frankfurt starting at $399.

“That’s less than one-third of what you’ll pay going via one of the major hubs in the U.S.,” he said.

For Condor, the move is part of a larger U.S. rollout targeted at international leisure travelers. Condor also is adding service from Frankfurt to San Diego, and from Munich to Seattle and Las Vegas.

Miami-based National Airlines operated the first nonstop flight from New Orleans to Europe in the late 1970s. National was acquired by Pan Am in 1980, and consumer demand in subsequent years wasn’t enough to entice another airline to fill the void.

With Condor’s announcement, the airport now has 15 airlines providing service to 54 nonstop destinations, including five international locales.

Follow Richard Thompson on Twitter, @rthompsonMSY.