Interflug Gesellschaft für internationalen Flugverkehr m.b.H. (part II - 1969-1990/91)
In the 1970s and most of 1980s Interflug
experienced considerable growth, however only in regard to international connections. Due to increasing competitiveness from Deutsche Reichsbahn
(railways) overcoming long-lasting effects of wartime damage, as well as increasing car ownership (even if still falling far behind Western average), maintaining domestic lines in such a relatively small country was becoming less and less practical. Line to Karl-Marx-Stadt was discontinued already in 1960s, while the rest of the lines were cancelled in early 1980s. It didn't mean, however, that airports become unused, since they remained in operation for international flights.
Net of Interflug
's international lines was at the same time rapidly expanding. Partially thanks to the fact, that the line was not member of the International Air Transport Association
), allowing it to sell tickets for significantly lower prices than members of that association. [Interflug
used that opportunity to gain strong position on market of charter flights (for citizens of Western countries - and importantly - citizens of West Berlin to which Lufthansa
was forbidden to fly) to holiday resorts along the Mediterranean and Black Sea.
List of Interflug
's connections included (not necessarily all at the same time):
-to Soviet Bloc to: Moscow, Leningrad, Warsaw, Sofia, Varna, Prague, Budapest and Bucharest;
-to Western, Northern and Southern Europe: Amsterdam, Athens, Belgrade, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Larnaca, Milan, Nicosia, Valetta, Rome, Stockholm, Tirana, Vienna and Zagreb;
-to Middle East and North Africa: Algiers, Baghdad, Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, Dubai, Istanbul, Monastir, Tel Aviv, Tripoli and Tunis;
-to Far East: Bangkok, Beijing, Hanoi, Karachi, Pyongyang and Singapore;
-to Sub-saharan Africa: Bamako, Conakry and Maputo;
-to America: Havana.
Also from 1989 direct lines were opened to West Germany: Düsseldorf, Cologne and Hamburg. It was notable because until then airliners from any of the German states were not allowed to cross inter-German border (therefore air connections to West Berlin were operated only by US, British and French airlines; and citizens of West Berlin could also use Interflug
through airports on the eastern side of the Wall for flights to other destinations) except during Leipzig International Trade Fairs.
In 1968 Interflug
received its first jet - Tupolev 134. Two were delivered in that year (DM-SCA, -SCB), two more in 1969 (DM-SCD, -SCH), three in 1974 (one from Soviet Union - DM-SCG and two transferred from the Air Force - DM-SCE, -SCF) and final - eighth - one in 1975 (DM-SCZ transferred from the Air Force). In 1974 DM-SCA was transferred to Soviet Union (in return DM-SCG was acquired - I know no details of that transaction - damage during repair perhaps?), DM-SCD crashed in 1975 with 27 fatalities (of 34 on board) and remaining planes were retired between 1984 and 1986.
Year 1973 saw delivery of the first two of larger Tu-134A planes (DM-SCI, -SCM). Total of 19 were obtained by Interflug
- 7 from directly from the producer (besides two already mentioned, in 1974 DM-SCI and -SCM, in 1976 DM-SCX and in 1978 DM-SCY) and as much as 12 were transferred from the Air Force (in 1975 DM-SCK, in 1977 DM-SCL and -SCN, in 1978 DM-SCP, in 1979 DM-SCO and -SCS, in 1980 DM-SCR, in 1982 DDR-SCW and -SDC, in 1984 DDR-SEF, in 1985 DDR-SDE and in 1988 DDR-SDG). Additionaly, between 1976 and 1990 two more Tu-134A's (DM-SDH and -SDI) were used by Ministerium für Staatssicherheit
(MfS, Ministry of State Security
, commonly known as Stasi
) in Interflug
colors, though technically they belonged and operated by crews from the Air Force.
For the long-range flights Interflug
was using Ilyushin 62 four-engine jets. First two Il-62's were delivered in 1970 (DM-SEA, -SEB), one in 1971 (DM-SEC) and three in 1973 (DM-SEF, -SEG, -SEH). Unfortunately, already in 1972 DM-SEA crashed at Königs Wusterhausen with 156 fatalities (at the time it was second-deadliest air crash in the world). DM-SEB was retired in 1986 and remaining ones in 1988 and 1989. One of them (DDR-SEG) now named "Lady Agnes" was landed in 1989 at 900m grass airfield at Stölln Rhinow/Gollenberg - the place of flights (and death) of Otto Lilienthal to become a monument there.
In the 1980 deliveries of modernized Il-62M begun. That year one plane was obtained (DM-SEI), one in 1981 (DDR-SEM), one in 1984 (DDR-SEO), two in 1985 (DDR-SEL transferred from Air Force and DDR-SER purchased new), two in 1986 (DDR-SES and -SET), two in 1987 (DDR-SEK transferred from the Air Force and DDR-SEU purchased new) and three in 1988 (DDR-SEW, -SEY, -SEZ). DDR-SEW crashed in 1989 with 22 fatalities (out of 103 on board). Remaining planes after thre reunification were sold to Aeroflot
Since 1978 Interflug
was leasing An-26 transport planes from the Air Force for cargo and charter flights. Because many of these flights were to the destinations on the other side of the Iron Curtain, use of military planes could cause certain problems of formal nature, therefore three of these airplanes were nominally
transferred to Interflug
and given registrations DDR-SBA, -SBB and -SBK (although practically they remained military planes).
Many thanks to Cplnew83 for his Antonov An-26. I allowed myself to make certain changes to it, mainly in the tail area
In the 1980s increasing fuel prices and tightening noise regulations made Soviet-produced aircraft uneconomical to operate. Like the Polish Airlines LOT
decided to purchase Western-produced airliners, although for political and economical reasons their choice was Airbus A310. Three were ordered in 1988 and delivered in 1989 (DDR-ABA, -ABB and -ABC). After the reunification they were taken over by Bundesluftwaffe
as VIP planes.
Last airliner used by Interflug
was turboprop De Havilland Canada Dash-8-100. One such plane was leased for a short time in 1990 from Tyrolean Airlines and still carried Austrian registrations (OE-LLI).
After the reunification of Germany the Interflug was taken under administration of the Treuhandanstalt
) overseeing all state property of the former German Democratic Republic. On 7 february 1991 liquidation of the Interflug
was announced and the last commercial flight of the line took place on 30 april 1991.
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...
EDIT - 27 october 2013:
In 1988 Interflug
was to receive 2 Il-86's, but although they were already allocated registration numbers (DDR-AAA, DDR-AAB), the order was switched to Airbus A310.