Interflug Gesellschaft für internationalen Flugverkehr m.b.H. (part I - 1958-1968)
Second airline of the German Democratic Republic was Interflug Gesellschaft für internationalen Flugverkehr mit beschränkter Haftung
, or shortly Interflug
, It was established on 18 september 1958, initially as a charter operator and "back-up" line to DLH (Ost)
. In that initial period it had no airplanes on its own, but was only using Lufthansa's
planes with changed logos. When in 1963 it was certain that East Germany will be forbidden from using Lufthansa
brand it was decided to incorporate it to Interflug
that would automatically become GDR's flag carrier. Together with personnel and planes, new line inherited also the net of airline connections: foreign lines to Moscow, Warsaw, Prague, Budapest, Bucuresti, Sofia, Belgarde and Tirana, as well as domestic lines from Berlin to Leipzig, Dresden, Erfurt, Karl-Marx-Stadt and Barth (holiday line). Further international lines were added throughout the decade.
Most numerous airliner inherited by Interflug
from DLH (Ost)
was Ilyushin Il-14, with 25 of them. Unfortunately on 7 december 1963 DM-SBL crashed near Königsbrück. In the next years number of Il-14's was rapidly diminishing: fourteen were sold to Egyptian Air Force (DM-SBA, -SBE, -SBF, -SBU, -SBW, -SBX, -SBY, -SAD in 1964; DM-SAN in 1965; DM-SBI, -SBO, -SBR, -SBV in 1966 and DM-SAO in 1967), five to Syrian Air Force (DM-SAM in 1964; DM-SAK in 1965, DM-SAC, -SAE and -SAG in 1966) and remaining were retired (DM-SAL and -SAO in 1967, DM-SAI in 1968, DM-SAH in 1969 and DM-SAB in 1970).
Image updated February 2020
Another numerous plane in service of Interflug
was Antonov 2 - 23 of them served in this airline, although most of them as crop-dusters and only 7 as airliners, mostly on the line to Karl-Marx-Stadt whose airport had only grass runway, incapable of operating heavy planes, and all of these were either retired or transferred to other duties in the Interflug
between 1975 and 1977.
Largest airplane and workhorse on long-range routes at the time were Ilyushin Il-18 four-engine turboprops. Five were inherited from DLH (Ost)
(DM-STA, -STB, -STC, -STF, -STG), two were transferred in 1964 from the Air Force (DM-STD, -STE), further two were added in 1966 (DM-STK, -STL), one in 1967 (DM-STF - second, as first one was written off), two in 1968 (DM-STN, -STO), two transferred from Air Force in 1970 (DM-STH, -STP) and final two also from the Air Force in 1974 (DM-STI, -STM). In 1967 DM-STF was written off due to damage sustained during repair in Moscow (and was replaced by new plane with same registration) and on 28 march 1979 DM-STL crashed during take-off in Luanda, Angola with 10 fatalities. DM-STB and -STC were retired in 1987, DM-STA, -STD and -STG were retired in 1988 and remaining ones lasted in service until reunification, when they were either written off (often later sold for use as monuments or restaurants) or sold to other airlines.
Il-14's were replaced on domestic lines by turboprop Antonov An-24's, six of which were delivered in late 1965 and early 1966 (DM-SBA, -SBC, -SBD, -SBE, -SBF, -SBG). Because in early 1970s Deutsche Reichsbahn
(railways) managed to overcome long-lasting effects of wartime damage and achieve relatively high standard of services and efficiency, especially thanks to their Städteexpress
- roughly Inter-City Express
), the airlines lost their comparative advantage and relatively small An-24's were found uneconomical to operate in GDR's conditions, which in turn led to their retirment in 1976 (one plane was sold to Bulgarian airline Balkan
and rest to Vietnam) and their replacement on domestic routes with larger planes (mostly Il-18's), until domestic lines in GDR were discontinued altogether in early 1980s.
General note: various (internet) sources differed significantly regarding the quantity of airplanes operated by the East German airlines, therefore I decided to follow the source that was giving most details - if it was wrong - then I'm sorry.
Note on registration markings: initially German Democratic Republic was using DDR- registrations, in 1956 they were changed to DM- and in 1981 again to DDR-.
To be continued...