In 2011, three friends gave up well-paid jobs to operate a fleet of long-distance coaches throughout Germany. They went on to dominate the domestic market and expand globally. MARTIN BENSLEY tells the story of FlixBus' remarkable triumph and reveals some of the company’s plans for the future.

Flixbus Setra S515HD (RT FL 1100) at Dortmund’s central bus station in June 2020.
A Hamburg-bound Setra (NU SO 6789) enters Frankfurt coach station, close to the central railway station, in November 2019.

Flixbus has become one of the largest intercity coach operators in the world, yet its founders André

Schwämmlein and Jochen Engert were initially just keen to start any kind of business rather than a public transport company.

The two former managers with Boston Consulting drew up a list of business proposals and discussed some 50 different ideas for products and services, before deciding to start a long-distance coach company, they told the German financial magazine Wirtschaftswoche.

Choosing coaches 

The idea came to Schwämmlein and Engert in 2010 while returning home from a skiing holiday. They saw numerous coaches on the motorway and recalled that the conservative-liberal government had recently announced the liberalisation in previously strictly-regulated sectors such as long-distance coaching.


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