JLAmber wrote:To have almost nothing to Asia and no TATL services seems they must surely have struck mutually beneficial deals with FRA & MUC to provide onward traffic?
There is no deal, and no benefits for HAM. After WWII, FRA has been established as Germany's main airport as it was pretty much in the middle of Western Germany, and also served as the major airfield for the USAF.
In the late 80ies, LH fueled the decision to expand MUC and establish it as a secondary hub. An understandable decision, as Germany's South is economically a lot stronger than the North.
Before the rise of the 3 big alliances, HAM did have several TATL and Asia routes, but they all died away when the alliance carriers strengthened their hub concepts.
The hub connections are HAM's biggest burden these days. There isn't enough incentive for alliance carriers to offer direct long-haul services from HAM. Especially LH Group has made it very clear that they have no long-haul plans for HAM, and they are also rumoured to pressure Star Alliance partners to keep them away from HAM.
In October, one of our local enthusiasts took the time to gather pax statistics to various destinations and showed that HAM would easily have the potential to sustain several long-haul routes:
Eastbound: BKK, SIN, PVG
Westbound: JFK/EWR, MIA, ORD, YYZ
Still, no carrier seems to want to take a look at them. HAM-YYZ has been discontinued by TS a while ago. For HAM-PVG, there was a half-hearted attempt by MU to extend their FRA service to HAM on a twice-daily basis. It didn't last long. And HAM-EWR was just recently abandoned by UA.
MIA and ORD would be AA destinations, but AA rather connects TXL to PHL, aiming at low-yield backpacker pax.
For BKK, TG would be our greatest hope, but they seem to have neither the ambition nor the aircraft to extend their international network.
And SQ connects DUS and TXL (as TR), but also shows no ambition to connect HAM.
So EK is HAM's best bet. Major international carrier, no alliance member, and rather fond of HAM for many years already.
As for the JFK route, my guess is they use it as a pressure point in negotiations over a 5th German route. The UAE have traffic rights for only 3 German airports. EK already got HAM on a special permit, in addition to FRA, MUC and DUS.
Once BER opens, it seems likely that EK would like to serve it, but they also wouldn't want to give up any of the other airports. There have been concerns in HAM already that EK might abandon the route in favour of adding BER, though I don't think that's very likely.
Needless to say that LH will rather call the calvalry than seeing EK giving them competition at yet another German airport.
EK's Tim Cook said the airline is "in negotiations with the German Ministry of Transport over HAM-JFK, but got a lot of grief from LH over the talks". That was a surprising statement, as EK has traffic rights from HAM and 5th freedom rights to North America. If they have the JFK slots, they could start operating several daily HAM-JFK flights tomorrow, without needing the ministry's or LH's approval.
So my guess is that EK is in talks, offering to abandon their 5th freedom rights if the ministry and LH agree to give them BER as a 5th German destination. If not, they will use their strong position in HAM to attack LH's TATL routes.
Yes, the new EU copyright directive is that stupid.