Thank you for 20 precious memories
The history of a company is not about facts and figures. It’s about people, stories and memories. Over the past 20 years, Hahn Air’s staff has grown from three to 300.
It’s been an exciting and dynamic ride. It’s time to take a moment to look back and share some of our recollections with you. Simply click on the pictures to read all the stories. We feel blessed by the successes we’ve encountered and the partnerships we’ve forged. We are ready for the next 20 years with you!
1999 - How it all began…
“Hans Nolte and I were running a tour operator and general sales agent office called Saspo representing airlines from Latin America. We developed the All American Airpass, a multi-carrier ticket for South American travels.
To be able to sell this pass through the GDS in Germany, we formed a partnership with a local airline called Hahn Air and entered the German BSP. That was the start of our ticketing business and in 1999, the first Hahn Air ticket was issued.”
2000 - We are family
“I knew the owners of the company already when I was a little boy because my mother worked for Saspo. When I started at Hahn Air, we were only 20 people.
Everybody knew each other, and we were like a family. That’s why I decided to propose to my girlfriend at a Hahn Air summer party. It was a moment we will never forget. Many colleagues came to our wedding, too.
That’s how close we all were. My wife and I are still happily married today.”
2001 - Joining the club
“In 2001, Hahn Air became a member of IATA, the International Air Transport Association. This was an important milestone because 82% of total air traffic and 290 airlines are part of this trade association.
Today, we are still a proud, respected and active member and participate in several IATA working groups.”
2002 - Paper piles
“It is hard to imagine today, but everything was on paper tickets back then. The colleagues brought boxes and boxes of these tickets and we were piling them up to the ceiling. It was unbelievable!
We were processing the tickets
manually, one by one. Our hands were red from the carbon paper and we had more
paper cuts than we could count.”
2003 - Ready for take-off
The owners, Hans Nolte and Nikolaus Gormsen, bought the airline Hahn Air in 2003. I joined the company shortly after as head of airline operations, pilot and flight manager – all at the same time. At that time we only had one plane, a Merlin turboprop aircraft, that was actually my own.
operating charter flights in 2004. Today, 25 people work in our flight
operations department and the Hahn Air fleet consists of three state-of-the-art
business jets. You can say that we have come a long way.”
2004 - Small team – big goals
“In the beginning, we were a true start-up company where everyone was doing everything. You saw what had to be done and then learned on the job how to do it.
In a way, we created our own positions which was a wonderful chance
to grow. Of course it was only possible because the owners gave us their trust
and placed confidence in our work.”
2005 - A fairy tale
“In 2005, our management organised the christening of our first business jet, a Citation CJ2. Management wanted somebody to be the godmother and nobody wanted to do it, so we did a ‘lucky’ draw to decide. I usually never win anything in life, but of course I drew the winning piece of paper.
unhappy about it at first, but then I thought, if I am going to do it, I’ll do
it right and I dressed up as a fairy that day. Nobody knew about it; my
sparkling costume was a surprise for everybody. We still laugh about it today.”
2006 - More choices
2008 - Arrival of e-ticketing
“I was hired in 2007 to make the change from paper ticketing to electronic ticketing for our interline partners. It was a turbulent time, because the deadline for the official switch was May 2008 and we had not only many existing airline clients but also a lot of other carriers that were interested in using our solutions. I remember that we had up to three partner cut-overs on a single day. And because of the different time zones, I sometimes even stayed at the office all night. One airline in the South Pacific region, Air Vanuatu, I implemented at 3am in the morning. I remember that a colleague from another department stayed with me to keep me company. We ordered pizza and got the job done. If you want to make progress, time zones should not be an issue.”
2009 - Cable spaghetti
“E-ticketing gave our business a boost and 2008 and 2009 were years of accelerated growth. It felt like we were hiring new people by the minute. And they all had to be connected to company systems and the Internet somehow. So we just kept plugging in new cables. It was a huge mess. Today, we have a professional data centre and it is hard to imagine how we were able to function back then”
2010 - The birth of Martin
2010 - We’ve got you covered
“In 2010 we felt a growing need for security in case of airline insolvencies in the travel industry. We therefore introduced Securtix, a free and comprehensive insolvency insurance. This automatically protects all services issued on an HR-169 ticket if the operating carrier should become insolvent.
In 2012 we went on to expand our financial support to stranded passengers. Since 2010, over 35 million insolvency-safe HR-169 tickets have been issued. We are very proud to be the first airline to introduce this kind of ticket insurance. And today, more than ever, our agency partners appreciate this extra level of service.”
2011 - A bag of cables
“When we opened our office in Uruguay, we had to connect all the systems with our German headquarters. I went to Montevideo with a big suitcase full of cables. The officials at airline customs were very suspicious. But a smile and some German chocolate helped me pass through.
It was a lot of work to establish the
connection. Two years later, we set up our office in Manila and this time we
were much more professional. We did not only grow fast, but we learned fast,
2012 - Making a difference
“As the company continued to grow, the owners, Hans Nolte and Nikolaus Gormsen, wanted to share their success with those less fortunate. They initiated the Hahn Air Foundation to support charity projects all over the world to help especially underprivileged women and children.
Today, 19 projects on four continents benefit from long-term support. One of the latest endeavours, for example, was the building of a Hahn Air school in Myanmar. I am responsible for continuously updating the website www.hahnairfoundation.org. We are especially proud of the “transparent account” where every visitor is able to see incoming donations and what good causes they have been used for. You can really see that every single Euro goes directly into the projects.”
2013 - 24/7
“To give travel agents round-the-clock support, we decided to make our Service Desk available 24/7. We established a follow-the-sun concept with four Service Desk offices in Manila/Philippines, Dreieich/Germany, Montevideo/Uruguay and New Delhi/India.
Today, we are 25 colleagues covering 10 languages. Our job is to assist travels agents all over the world and the best part is dealing with so many different nationalities and cultures.”
2014 - A blast from the past
“With the e-tickets today, it is hard to imagine how many paper tickets and invoices we had! And we needed to store them somewhere, so we chose a room in the basement. It started with somebody putting a pile of paper on the floor. And then another pile. The piles fell over. Eventually, it was mountains of tickets from floor to ceiling.
In 2014, I took Nico downstairs to ask him what
to do with all this paper. I remember Nico being in complete shock “Is this all
from us?!” I replied: Well, we have seven more of these rooms that I need to
2015 - Years of growth
“It was not all successes, we had failures, too. But we learned from them and became more and more professional. Travel agents and airlines trusted in our services and that made us proud.
In 2015, the start-up phase was
officially over. It was now all about optimising processes and results for our
partners. But from our start-up phase, we learned how to be courageous. When
you are afraid, innovation is not possible.”
2017 - Connecting the world
“Just yesterday, I had a thought of how easy Hahn Air has made our lives. Before, it was just really hopeless with ticketing, when airlines, especially smaller ones, did not have interline agreements. Or we simply just could not issue without the ticketing authority for that specific carrier.
As a result, we had to get hold of an office in a foreign country or had to do it on the web; but still payment was a problem. But then our Hahn Air representative visited us here in Windhoek in 2016. Such a delightful personality that really introduced the product to us so well. We’ve been using HR-169 ever since and are very pleased.”
2018 - More than just a job
2019 - Today
“We knew we had a great idea and that nobody else was occupying this business niche. But we had no clue how successful the company would become!
Today, Hahn Air covers 190 markets with its services and cooperates with more than 350 air, rail and shuttle partners and over 100,000 travel agencies.
But our success would not have been possible with just a unique business idea; it’s all about the people who shaped our company history. We started the ticketing business with three colleagues and one room; today we are over 300. And I would like to say thank you to every single one of them. I’d say, we are ready for the next 20 years!”