What is the importance of the India market for Lufthansa?
Lufthansa has been present in India for more than 52 years now. We have steadily grown with the Indian aviation industry and have emerged as leading European airline. India has already become a core market for us, and there is further huge growth potential for air travel here. This is why we continue to invest and bring our newest products and services to India, for the benefits of Indian travellers. But to help airlines grow, and to support India’s rapidly developing economy, the government should do what it can to reduce the unusually high operational costs burdening the aviation industry and correlated sectors like tourism.
What are your growth expectations in the near future?
Introducing our two latest global products in India highlights our commitment towards growing and investing here. This year, we are focussing on the early introduction of our latest products in this market. Our most significant big investments include bringing the all new B747-8 to Delhi and Bengaluru. Lufthansa is the global launch airline for this re-edition of the ‘Queen of the Skies’. Its launch on India routes also marks the introduction of the new Lufthansa Business Class seat in Asia. From September 2, this latest global product offering of Lufthansa will also be introduced on our Mumbai-Munich route. In addition, we are opening a new Senator and Business Class lounge in Delhi soon, another significant investment that underlines our commitment to India and our customers and partners here.
Any new routes/ additional frequencies/ service offerings planned for the next 12 months?
Currently we connect five Indian cities and our global hubs in Frankfurt and Munich with 46 weekly frequencies. We have no plans yet to add frequencies on any of these routes.
What will be the biggest advantage of introducing the B747-8 on Delhi-Frankfurt route?
The B747-8 is the latest aircraft in the 747-series, and one of the most successful models in aviation history. With this we are bringing the latest global aviation technology for our customers in India. On this most recent aircraft to enter service worldwide, passengers will have the opportunity to enjoy Lufthansa’s all-new Business Class. The new aircraft also offers intuitive adjustments, additional storage space and an enhanced inflight entertainment system. Additionally, the B747-8 brings double-digit improvements in fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions per passenger over its predecessor, the 747-400. It is also much quieter, and generates a 30 per cent smaller noise footprint.
Your strategy for Frankfurt as a hub for Indians flying to the US/ other destinations?
Frankfurt is already a major hub for Lufthansa in Europe. In Asia Pacific region, we connect 22 destinations with 192 weekly frequencies to our two major hubs – Frankfurt and Munich.
Your view on high operational costs in India.
High operational costs have made it very challenging for all airlines to operate profitably in India. This has negative consequences for India’s economic growth, employment generation, and of course the travelling public. Compared to global levels, India burdens its aviation sector with high taxation, expensive fuel and high landing charges. Increasing the airport charges even further, like at IGI, only hurts customers, airlines, exporters, importers, the travel and tourism industry and related sectors crucial for economic development. What is more, by making airlines and passengers pay even more, India risks pricing itself out of the market for regional aviation hubs in Asia and the Middle East. As a result, flight traffic would only be diverted away from India and its new international hub at Delhi, for the benefit of competing hubs in the region.