In the second half of this year, Lufthansa will be introducing wi-fi streaming on its short-haul A320 fleet, enabling passengers to view films, music videos, sports events, and games etc on their own personal devices such as mobiles and tablets. This was revealed by Christian Schindler, Director – UK & Ireland, in an interview with Irish Travel Trade News during a visit to Dublin last week.
Lufthansa recorded its most successful year ever in Dublin in 2013, with 369,676 passenger numbers beating the previous record (set in 2012) by 6.75% – and almost 75% of the ex-Dublin traffic connected onwards from Frankfurt or Munich. “Dublin has proved to be a key market for Lufthansa within our network,” said Christian. “It reinforces our belief that discerning travellers still prefer the added value they receive from a full service airline. We will continue to offer our Dublin passengers the shortest possible onward connection times to our worldwide network through our hubs of Frankfurt and Munich. In 2013 the most popular onward destinations for Dublin travellers included Moscow, Kiev, Tel Aviv, Lagos, Sofia, Beijing, Caracas, Tokyo, Zagreb, Cairo, Graz and Minsk.”
Overall more than 104 million passengers flew with airlines in the Lufthansa Group last year. In total, Lufthansa, Germanwings, Swiss and Austrian Airlines carried a million more passengers in 2013 than in the previous year.
Lufthansa has 261 new aircraft on order up to 2025 – worth €32 billion at list price! – of which 23 will be delivered this year. “Lufthansa has taken a policy decision that our aircraft will have a maximum life of 25 years,” explained Christian. “We always want the best state-of-the-art aircraft – for the comfort of our passengers, for maximum fuel efficiency, and to have the quietest aircraft available – and we are engaged in the biggest roll-over of aircraft in Lufthansa’s history.
“Up to 2016 the overall fleet size will remain the same, as we replace older aircraft, such as the B737s on short-haul routes and the B747-400s on long-haul routes. After 2016 what we do will depend on economic developments – we plan to grow and will be able to do so quickly if necessary.
“Our short-haul fleet will become Airbus only and in the future we will only have aircraft with 100 or more seats. We began replacing our 50-seaters four years ago and are now replacing all aircraft with less than 70 seats.
“We recently took delivery of our 11th flagship A380 and our 11th B747-8 – and later we will also have the A350, now under test, and the B777, currently in development.”
New Cabin Classes
As well as introducing many new aircraft, Lufthansa is also giving major upgrades to its cabins – and at ITB Berlin last week launched its new Premium Economy Class that will be introduced to its B747-8 fleet from October/November 2014 onwards.
“We introduced our new First Class with the A380 three years ago and this will have been rolled out on all the fleet by the beginning of 2015 – and it is the only 5-star First Class in Europe. We also introduced our new Business Class on the B747-8 last year and our goal is to achieve 5-star status with that too.
“This upgrade created too big a price gap between Economy and Business Class so, having seen what works and what doesn’t on other airlines, we have just launched our new Premium Economy Class.”
The new Premium Economy Class seats offer up to 50% more room than Economy Class and will be fitted on the entire long-haul fleet within 12 months. Premium Economy Class will be closer to Economy Class than Business Class in terms of its average prices.
Depending on aircraft type, the new seats will be up to 3cm wider and provide greater privacy as well as approximately 10cm more room at the side thanks to each seat having its own wide armrest and a centre console between the seats. The backrest can be reclined further and the seat pitch is a significantly more spacious 97cm (38”). As a result, passengers have around one-and-a-half times as much room as Economy Class.
New Flights and Facilities
Compared with the three weekly Dublin – Munich flights last year, Lufthansa is commencing this year’s season with four flights a week, increasing to five weekly from 23rd July to the end of August.
The Star Alliance Company Plus has also been rebranded PartnerPlusBenefit. “We have some 9,000 companies in the programme in the UK and Ireland and we decided to adopt the global branding, while also introducing improvements for customers. There are currently 10 airline members in the programme and we are continuously to talking with other airlines.”