Lufthansa Group bullish on Middle Eastern growth
Lufthansa, the largest European airline group, is giving a positive outlook on the 2014/2015 travel season for its business in the Middle East at this year’s Arabian Travel Market in Dubai. In 2013, more than 1,7 million guests, for the first time, have been welcomed onboard the group members Lufthansa, SWISS and Austrian Airlines on the route network to and from the Middle East. This reflects a growth of more than 5% compared to the previous year. All in all the Lufthansa Group offered flights to more than 104 million passengers in 2013.
The largest growth has been generated in the premium segment, especially in First and Business Class. In both compartments, Lufthansa has recently introduced new seats and services which have been greatly appreciated by its customers from the Middle East. In one of largest retrofit programmes in the industry, more than 7,000 Business Class seats are being installed on over 100 long-haul aircraft and therefore increasing the new Business Class availability to 100% by summer 2015. The retrofit on First Class has been nearly concluded.
“The premium growth in the UAE has been impressive over the last months with more sales potential at the horizon. Our GCC passengers – being loyal to our group for more than 50 years – can be assured that Lufthansa will day by day improve the service that we are known for and take them to their destinations in utmost convenience and comfort“, said Karsten Zang, Lufthansa’s new General Manager UAE and Director Gulf and Pakistan since January this year. ”In addition to the even better network opportunities from the Middle East, Lufthansa committed itself to invest EUR 1million every day till 2015 in better ground and onboard services. New seats in all classes, individual inflight entertainment in Economy Class, innovative First Class and Business Class as well as brand new lounges, will help us define new industry standards and give us advantages over other carriers which fly different products on their route network.”
Lufthansa relies on long heritage in the Middle East
Looking at the Middle East, Lufthansa’s network will grow further. With more than 140 weekly flights from 14 destinations - it is the largest program ever performed. Already on 12th September 1956 Lufthansa started flights to and from Tehran being the airline’s first destination in the Middle East. In 1960, Saudi Arabia followed with a flight from Dhahran on a four-(piston) engine Lockheed Super Constellation. In Kuwait, Lufthansa celebrated its 50th anniversary last year.
“We are looking back on more than 50 years of flying to the Middle East and right after the start of Lufthansa in 1955, this region became very important for being connected to Europe and America - building on this heritage is an important pillar of our services here. We will soon see more important milestones till we are celebrating 60 years of flying to the region,” Karsten Zang added.
Better service in Business Class and brand-new Premium Economy Class
Building on the accolades of the 5-star award from Skytrax for its First Class, Lufthansa is heavily improving its offer in Business Class: A more personal touch in the service provided and greater flexibility in terms of processes as a whole should make passengers feel even more pampered than before. The current in-flight service on long-haul routes will be enhanced, with the introduction of a signature service. The aim is to provide a service that reminds passengers of being in a top restaurant. The new aspects will be tested this summer and, if successful, will be implemented on the entire long-haul network from 2015. From as early as August 2014, the amenity kits provided in Business Class will also be upgraded. A new kit has been developed with Samsonite and will include high-quality personal care products from the Greek premium brand Korres.
New highlights to be introduced this year will be Lufthansa’s new Premium Economy Class on all long-haul airplanes. For its new Premium Economy Class, Lufthansa has designed a high-quality seat that offers much greater comfort and up to 50 per cent more room in this class. The quality of food on offer will also be higher than in Economy Class. The use of porcelain tableware in particular will make a noticeable difference. Passengers in Premium Economy will also be able to take a second item of luggage with them at no extra charge. Tickets will be available for sale this May, and the first flight is planned for October. The first aircraft to feature the new travel class will be the Boeing 747-8. The installation of Premium Economy should be complete by the end of 2015, at which point there will be a total of 3,600 seats in the cabins of the long-haul fleet.
Largest fleet investment & launch customer of the new Boeing 777-9x
Lufthansa is modernising its long-haul fleet and during the summer timetable alone will be adding six new intercontinental aircraft to the fleet, which are more fuel-efficient and much quieter: Two new Airbus A380 will make it possible to extend the summer service on the routes from Frankfurt to New York (JFK), Beijing and San Francisco. Lufthansa will then operate a total of twelve A380 airliners. The Boeing 747-8 fleet will also see further rapid growth by the autumn, with four new aircraft bringing the total to 14. For the first time passengers will be able to enjoy the comfort of the “Queen of the Skies” also on flights from Frankfurt to São Paulo in Brazil. From this summer the new jumbo jet is even flying twice daily to Los Angeles.
The latest order book from Lufthansa stands at 295 airplanes from the new Bombardier C-Series to the world longest, the Boeing 747-8, and the world largest airplane, the Airbus A380. In total Lufthansa is investing more than €36 billion at list prices till 2025. Recent highlight is the start of the new Boeing 777-9X program where Lufthansa is the first launch customer which signed a commitment letter, just before the Dubai Airshow 2013. From 2020 34 Boeing 777-9X will join the fleet and purchase rights for another 30 are already agreed. Already in 2016 25 new Airbus A350-900 will be added to the network.