Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Lufthansa To Optimize Network

Lufthansa To Optimize Network, May Be First A380 Operator To India
Aviation Daily Dec 23 , 2009 , p. 14
Neelam Mathews

Lufthansa, which is due to receive three Airbus A380s in May 2010 of 15 on order, expects to start flying the plane in the summer schedule configured for 526 passengers and first- and business-class seats on the upper deck.

Tokyo, Shanghai and New York are likely to be the initial destinations, Axel Hilgers, the carrier’s South Asia director, told The DAILY. There are two scenarios being discussed, at the moment, said Hilgers.

The Aviation Authority of Germany last week formally sought a clearance from the Ministry of Civil Aviation in India to fly the A380 to Delhi. This will make Lufthansa the first carrier to fly the A380 to India.

Asked whether he thought there would be some objections to the clearance, Hilgers said, “I don’t think [there’s] any reason why [India] will not give permission. Maybe we shall wait till Terminal 3 is ready to handle to the A380. We expect the rights to be given in early 2010, and [we] may consider flying in the winter schedule.”

Air India was invited by Lufthansa to join the Star Alliance but has delayed its entry by two years because IT integration with Indian Airlines is not yet complete.

Lufthansa, which recently integrated Austrian Airlines into its network in India, will increase frequencies on the Vienna-Delhi route from five to six in the next summer schedule, starting at the end of March. Affiliate Swiss International Air Lines will increase flights between Mumbai and Zurich from five to six a week from June 2010. The Swiss flight from Delhi to Zurich will increase from five to six weekly frequencies in the current winter schedule.

“We are defending what we have and working closely with group partners to optimize our network operations. We still need a strict cost controls regime. When we start to refuse passengers, then the time has come to increase frequencies,” said Hilgers.

Changes on the Frankfurt-Pune route further demonstrate how flexibly Lufthansa reacts to market trends. In the upcoming summer schedule, Lufthansa’s Business Jet Service on the route will be modified. The Boeing 737-800s will be converted to a two-class configuration. Lufthansa will increase the number of seats on the Frankfurt-Pune route from 56 business-class-only seats to a total of 92, reducing frequencies between Frankfurt and Pune from six to three per week.

“We dont want to be too optimistic. We don’t see us using our full rights — 69 frequencies a week — in the next 12 months, as we are not there in the level of 2006 and 2007,” said Hilgers. “We need more time to get back to our [original] yields. 2010 will be a challenging year.”

Lufthansa currently operates 52 flights a week to India.

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