“Despite the highly challenging market environment, Lufthansa last year posted a very good result of 1.35 billion euros, maintaining its lead and succeeding against the competition thanks to a strong team performance and a strong balance sheet,” said Thierry Antinori, Executive Vice President Marketing and Sales at Lufthansa Passenger Airlines, in front of journalists at the ITB in Berlin, the world’s leading travel trade show. Although the economic environment is very difficult, Lufthansa continues to focus on the development of attractive products and services. “We will continue to expand our role as Europe’s most attractive airline. The crisis does not represent standstill at Lufthansa – on the contrary! Major investments in the development of new products and services will allow us to offer our customers true added value and greater comfort when travelling. We shall remain a reliable partner for our customers.”
Investments in product development
By 2013, Lufthansa will have invested about 150 million euros in the renovation and improvement of its lounges across the world. During the past twelve months alone, 17 new lounges throughout the world have been opened or reopened after renovations and improvements, including lounges in Frankfurt, Munich, New York and Mumbai. “Business travellers and frequent travellers expect attractive lounges all over the world. It is our aim to fulfil these expectations of our premium and status customers”, revealed Antinori. “The investments in new lounges and the renovation and improvement of existing lounges underline this. Travelling with Lufthansa should be as pleasant and as comfortable as possible.”
There are also changes to the on-board product. As of late summer, two of the three Lufthansa Business Jets, which are operated for Lufthansa by PrivateAir, will additionally be equipped with Economy Class seats. The Frankfurt–Bahrain and Frankfurt–Dammam routes will then have 32 seats in Business Class and 60 seats in Economy Class. The aircraft will be equipped with the latest generation of seats, i.e. with integrated in-flight entertainment in both classes. “The new equipment in our Business Jets will enable us to be far more flexible in the arrangement of the flight schedules. We will therefore also be able to present our customers with a better and more comfortable offer on routes that don’t justify the deployment of two widebody aircraft.”
Mobile services for added comfort and flexibility
Speed, flexibility and comfort are indispensable for business travellers. The expansion of Lufthansa’s online and mobile services offers its customers more time and mobility while preparing for and during their journey. The new services have been well received by the customers. Whereas in 2002 only one in 125 customers booked their tickets online at www.lufthansa.com in 2008 it was already one in nine that did so. Last year, over 1.5 million customers used the mobile portal for a paperless and uncomplicated start to their journey, and the figure is continuing to rise. “We offer our customers additional comfort with our eFly services – All they require for booking, seat reservation, check-in and boarding pass is their mobile phone. It doesn’t get any easier or quicker”, so Antinori.
Lufthansa has also invested in its services for the customers that don’t want to check in online. New check-in machines with state-of-the-art technologies, such as RFID readers, passport and 2D barcode scanners, ensure a quicker and uncomplicated check-in. Lufthansa is operating in a world, in which quality, speed and the intelligent use of technology is becoming increasingly decisive explains Antinori. “Our investments pay off. We have an eye on both quantity and quality. Last year, we didn’t only set a new passenger record with 57 million customers, but also achieved top marks with our passengers in our customer satisfaction index.”
Summer schedule adjusted to lower demand
Due to the current economic situation, Lufthansa will be adjusting its capacities according to the decline in demand during the upcoming summer schedule. “Almost all of the current Lufthansa destinations will remain in the schedule”, stresses Antinori. The route network includes 206 destinations in 78 countries (in summer 2008 there were 207 destinations in 81 countries). Altogether, the capacity in the summer will be reduced by 0.5 per cent. This reduction is however already being overcompensated by the successful launch of Lufthansa Italia. The offered capacity of seat kilometres in the overall Lufthansa route network in summer 2009 will therefore be increasing by 0.6 per cent in comparison with the previous year. Thereby, European traffic will be increasing by 1.5 per cent. Adjusted after the Lufthansa Italia growth, European traffic would drop by 2.2 per cent. The intercontinental connections will increase by 0.2 per cent, whereby an extraordinary item shall be taken into account. Changes to the seat configuration in the Boeing 747-400 fleet will mean that in the future an additional 22 Economy Class seats will be offered in this aircraft type. Adjusted after the increase of the seating offer, the offered capacity in intercontinental traffic would drop by 0.7 per cent. “We will continue to maintain our presence in all of the traffic areas and regions despite the weaker demand and the resulting reduction of the capacities”, emphasizes Antinori. “We are optimising our offer of flights and are carefully and flexibly adjusting it to the corresponding demand. Thereby, we are cancelling frequencies on certain routes, deploying smaller aircraft in some areas and replacing non-stop flights with connecting flights in other areas, in order to continue to be able to provide our customers with a global network.”
More offers to Africa
Lufthansa has placed a major focus on the growth market of Africa. The offer to Africa was already significantly expanded last year with new Lufthansa flights to Luanda and Malabo. There will be even more connections in the future with the planned integration of Brussels Airlines into the Star Alliance. The customers of Lufthansa, SWISS and Brussels Airlines will therefore have a total of 35 destinations in Africa at their disposal in the future. In addition, cooperation agreements with the three partners EgyptAir, Ethiopian and South African will provide customers with many more connections from Europe to Africa, as well as on the African continent.
Code-share with Brussels Airlines
Within the framework of Brussels Airlines’ future entry into the Star Alliance, Lufthansa and Brussels Airlines have already increased their cooperation. Both airlines have granted each other’s passengers access to their lounges since mid-February. As of the summer schedule, many Brussels Airlines flights will also be offered with Lufthansa flight numbers and vice versa. In the future, Lufthansa passengers will therefore also be able to benefit from the Brussels Airlines route network. In return Brussels Airlines passengers will also have the opportunity to use Lufthansa connections. This service is initially available for flights between Germany and Belgium, as well as to selected European destinations and will later be extended to include additional connections. The flights can be booked as of 24 March.
The next steps of the cooperation are also already being planned: It will soon be possible to combine the tariffs of the two airlines in neighbourhood traffic. In addition, there will be a partnership between the frequent flyer programs Miles & More and Brussels Airlines’ Privilege.