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Marabu Airlines: An Introduction

To the point As we recently passed Marabu Airlines’ first birthday, let’s have a look at this small leisure airline that you might have not heard about before.

The airline has been a rather surprising addition to the European airline space, and has been in the news quite regularly and recently again. If your upcoming holiday plans include a Condor flight within Europe, you might be booking Marabu without knowing it.

Alternatively, you might be in a similar situation as I was a couple of months ago: you want to learn more about the airline that is responsible for an upcoming flight of yours.

Some of it might sound scary or even amusing – in the end, I’d like to ease a bit of your concerns and enable you to have a trip as smooth as possible!

What or Who Exactly Is Marabu?

Marabu Airlines, officially “Marabu Airlines OÜ”, is an Estonian leisure airline that was founded on 13th December 2022 and the airline commenced operations on 15th April 2023. The airline was founded by Attestor Capital, which also owns a 51% stake in the German leisure airline Condor.

The ticket sales for Marabu are handled exclusively by Condor, which describes Marabu as a “partner airline”. First, rumored as a potentially strange almost in-house competitor to Condor, it then became clear that Marabu is more of a little (rather low-cost) “sister airline”.

Even the naming shows their relationship: the condor bird is the largest flying land bird in the Western Hemisphere while Marabu is the German term for the marabou (stork) that is native to sub-Saharan Africa and often credited with the largest spread of any land bird to rival the (Andean) condor.

Why Marabu and Is Marabu Safe?

In short: Yes. Marabu has entered the European air and especially the air space of Germany’s incumbent Lufthansa. There is little room next to the large Lufthansa crane, so the space covered by the competitors is rather niche (i.e. mostly holiday or “exotic” destinations) and done in a rather low-cost way (i.e. airlines like Ryanair or Transavia).

Some people hear/read Estonia and are potentially a bit concerned due to the Baltic/Eastern European association, but this should not be the case as Estonia is not only a member state of the European Union with its rules but also subject to all airline regulations that put safety first.

Marabu operates mainly the Airbus A320 aircraft and (according to its own website), “its fleet is maintained to the highest European standards”. 

What's the Airline's History?

Since the news of its founding in December 2022, Marabu has been in the news frequently and regularly. When you google Marabu Airlines, you will get tons of (mainly negative) news that might scare any traveler looking forward to a relaxed holiday. Let me give you a quick recap of the history, but also ease your concerns a bit.

First, the airline had a rocky start in April 2022 with the one and only plane (an A320neo) of their entire fleet breaking down on its sixth day of operations, which resulted in probably millions of euros of costs due to the stranded passengers on Lanzarote.

The unplanned extension of the stay by two days for the passengers triggers costs for at least additional accommodation, catering/fare, and replacement flights. All very costly, especially on such short notice!

Then, Marabu’s limited fleet led to the use of multiple partners (as they had to heavily rely on wet lease) and technical issues continued also sometimes even with the planes of the partners.

Within the first days of Marabu’s operations, it had to already cut routes and use already the help of multiple airlines across Europe (Nordica Airlines, Heston Airlines, Fly2Sky, Sundair, Chair Air, Plus Ultra, White Airways, Lumiwings, Chair Airlines).

News of Marabu was dominated by a chaotic organisation of the airline as well as flight delays/cancellations. The result: the compensation costs continued to increase and the image of Marabu was already negatively associated. 

In July, an anonymous pilot shared criticism regarding poor working conditions (and then also partially safety-relevant!) through the press.

In that month, I (had already booked and) took a flight from Munich to Chania (Crete). I initially chose that flight due to its modest price. After booking and with the increase and continuation of such negative news, I honestly was rather worried. I have not been that stressed for a long time due to an upcoming flight.

In August, leadership changes went through the news. On the one hand, the CEO of Nordica Airlines (a close wet lease partner) was replaced due to the poor performance also related to Marabu. On the other hand, the CEO of Marabu suddenly resigned (and his successor was first presented as interim and only by December confirmed as permanent).

And What About Now?

By now, Marabu has established itself as a little sister of Condor and the low-cost leisure airline it aimed to be. The statistics (regarding punctuality) and customer reviews are getting better. However, the financial losses in the millions of euros would have their aftermath. In December 2023, it was announced that the largest partner Nordica was ending the partnership and that the two airlines would continue on separate ways.

As Nordica is Estonia’s premier carrier, it was once founded and is also financed by Germany – which had stopped the financing in November after reviewing the losses of Nordica that amounted to more than 12 million euros in the first three quarters of the year.

Now, Nordica is looking for a private purchaser of the airline. Otherwise, it would go insolvent. The Nordica news is sad but not directly affecting Marabu as it has moved out of the joint offices and moved on from the partnership. With the operations of Marabu reaching constant levels, it looks like it can continue on its own.

Which Destinations Are Covered by Marabu?

From Germany

Marabu Airlines is an airline that offers non-stop flights from Hamburg and Munich to various popular holiday destinations primarily around the Mediterranean:

However, the exact list of destinations constantly changes over time, so it’s always a good idea to check the latest information on their official Marabu website. Alternatively, check directly via the Condor website.

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From France

While the flight schedules and routes change continuously, Marabu does not directly serve France. Flights from France are usually served directly by Condor and cover long-distance destinations via Frankfurt, such as:

  • Americas
  • Africa
  • Islands in the Indian Ocean (Seychelles, Mauritius, Maldives…)

If Hamburg or Munich might be of interest to you for a separate layover, Marabu might be your cheap option (as these are the two hubs currently served by Marabu). Then, it could be an interesting multi-city trip via Germany to the Mediterranean or other destinations described above.

Marabu Airlines - Personal Experience

Due to the cheap price for a short direct flight, I booked Marabu instead of my “home carrier” Lufthansa (where I also enjoy my status privileges from Miles and More).

It is a confusing booking if you don’t do the research. At least, it was very much so for me. I initially was happy about booking a Condor flight that was then something very different. At the last booking step, I actively perceived “Marabu” for the first time.

In my booking confirmation, it suddenly stated operated by “Nordica” and finally my flight was actually operated by Heston Airlines (became clear only at physical check-in!).

Marabu Airlines

I’m used to always checking in online and choosing my seat before a flight, but the websites were first confusing (where to check in?!) and then simply just a lie: the “temporarily unavailable” was not about online check-in not being available for the hours where I wanted to check in… It simply did not exist at all (yet).

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Even by now, online check-in is only available for select locations in Germany (Hamburg, Nuremberg, Stuttgart), the Canary Islands, and Greece. In general, the website is very poor and (at the time of this writing) even has errors.

Due to the missing online check-in, we had to go to the physical check-in… And we almost missed the check-in as not many people were waiting there and we were late to the airport. Luckily, I reached the airport by phone to let them know and they informed the check-in agent! That resulted in us rushing through the airport to the gate.

At least, I could run into the Terminal 1 lounge for 1 minute. My Priority Pass via the American Express Platinum card paid off in this instant and instead of the meal we planned to have there, the friendly lounge lady (after seeing my sweaty, stressed look) allowed me to quickly grab a few snacks and drinks for take-away. Our relaxed vacation then finally started on board the flight that we boarded as the last two passengers!


In short, Marabu is just another low-cost carrier. Don’t expect too much, be prepared, and you will be fine. It’s all about expectation management and knowing the information above!

Come to discuss that topic in our Facebook Group!
Based in Germany, Tom is our expert on loyalty programs, credit cards and travel - and he is passionate about great deals! He is a food enthusiast who has lived and worked on every continent (except Antarctica).

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