Mystery Solved: Lufthansa’s Newark to Malta Route


Yesterday I wrote about how Lufthansa loaded a rather surprising transatlantic route into the program. We now know the reason for this route.

Lufthansa Newark-Malta flight summer 2021

As indicated by Brett Snyder, over the weekend, Lufthansa loaded a new service between Newark and Malta into the schedule for this summer. The flight will operate according to the following schedule:

LH489 Newark to Malta departing 8:45 p.m. and arriving 11:25 a.m. (+1 day)
LH488 Malta to Newark departing 3.15pm and arriving 7.00pm

Lufthansa route from Newark to Malta

Lufthansa will use an Airbus A350-900 for the route, with 293 seats, including 48 seats in business class, 21 seats in premium economy class and 224 seats in economy class. The route covers a distance of just under 4,600 miles in each direction and is blocked at 8:40 am eastbound and 9:45 am westbound.

Lufthansa Business Class A350-900

The route will work very inconsistently:

  • It will work up to 3 times a week
  • It will always operate in place of the Newark-Munich route, which is daily, except on days when the Newark-Malta route operates.
  • The first flights are eastbound on June 30 and westbound on July 11, and the last flights are eastbound on October 14 and westbound on October 15.
  • There is no consistency in frequencies, days of the week, etc.

Although the itinerary has been loaded into the schedule, the availability is “zeroed”, which means that the public cannot book this flight. We now know exactly why.

Why does Lufthansa operate this route?

While I speculated yesterday as to why Lufthansa would operate this route, we finally have an answer. As indicated by @xJonNYC (and confirmed by other sources), the Lufthansa flight from Newark to Malta is exclusively a charter service for passengers on Viking cruises.

If you look the Viking cruise program outside Malta this summer, the dates exactly match Lufthansa’s scheduled flights to and from Malta. The Viking Sea and Viking Venus will both be based in Malta this summer, and these ships each have a capacity of 930 passengers.

Viking’s largest customer base is Americans, so these charter flights are meant to make it easier to get in and out of Malta. With 293 seats on each plane, nearly a third of the passengers on each ship could take these flights.

In the past, having to log in to get to Malta wouldn’t have been that complicated, but at present, transit restrictions at major European airports are complex (in terms of eligibility, testing, etc. ), so a nonstop flight from the US to Malta is more valuable than ever.

Unfortunately, these flights will not be open to the general public, so anyone else wishing to travel to Malta will have to find different arrangements. It’s a shame, because Malta can be a fun place to visit, and the country even entices people to visit this summer. Although the country is not yet open to Americans, it is expected to open soon.

By the way, there had been speculation that this route was for maintenance reasons, as Lufthansa Technik has a base in Malta. This has nothing to do with these flights, however – with a few exceptions, planes will turn quickly in Malta, and it would be much more efficient for Lufthansa to shuttle between Malta from Frankfurt than from Newark.

Lufthansa’s Newark-Malta flight is a Viking Cruises charter

At the end of the line

Lufthansa has loaded a new route between Newark and Malta in the program this summer. The airline will fly an A350 to market up to 3 times per week, which will replace the Newark-Munich route on those dates.

These flights will not be open to the general public, but will instead be charter flights for Viking cruise passengers. The cruise line has two ships based in Malta this summer, and this service makes it easy for Americans to travel to and from Malta, given the complexity of international travel these days.

What do you think of Lufthansa’s Newark-Malta route?

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