Lufthansa announces new Newcastle -Munich service

German airline Lufthansa has recently commenced a nonstop service from Newcastle to Munich.

This is the first Munich service for Lufthansa from Newcastle, opening its seventh destination in the UK. The new service complements the existing Eurowings direct flight to Dusseldorf.

The six-weekly service operates Sunday to Friday and offers leisure and business the opportunity to explore Bavaria’s capital city, in addition to providing over 130 onward connections throughout Europe, Americas and Asia Pacific.

Munich is renowned for its annual Oktoberfest, beer halls, classical music and iconic landmarks such as the Neo-Gothic Neues Rathaus. Fares start from £86 return and are available to book now at lufthansa.com.

Announcing the new flight, Andreas Koster, Senior Director Sales UK, Ireland & Iceland, Lufthansa Group, said: ‘We are delighted to be able to offer passengers in the North East with an additional and convenient new route into Germany. At Lufthansa, we pride ourselves on being a premium, full-service, five-star airline and in connecting our customers to one of our two major hubs with our world-wide network. This new service will connect our customers from Newcastle to exciting cities and cultures in Europe and beyond.’

Nick Jones, Chief Executive at Newcastle International Airport said: ‘We are delighted that Lufthansa, a globally-renowned, five-star airline, has chosen to operate from Newcastle International Airport. Watching the first flight take to the skies this morning was a very proud moment for the Airport and an important milestone for the region. As well as opening up Munich as a direct destination, this new route will provide over 130 onward connections throughout Europe and beyond – providing both our business and leisure passengers with more choice and flexibility in 2020. I hope that the North East travelling public support and enjoy using this new service.’

Lufthansa adds to UK routes

Germany-based air carrier, Lufthansa, is adding to its services on UK routes as part of its recently announced summer schedule.

The new schedule will include an increase in capacity between Aberdeen in Scotland and Frankfurt, in addition to two completely new services to Glasgow in Scotland and to the Welsh capital, Cardiff from the German city of Dusseldorf. The introduction of B737-500 aircraft with seating for 114 passengers, to replace the 70-seat CR7 will enable the increase in capacity on the Aberdeen route without the need for additional flights.

Of the two new services to Glasgow and Cardiff from Dusseldorf, it is intended that the Glasgow service will operate throughout the year from its inauguration on April 8, while the Cardiff service will be for the summer season only, commencing on May 4 this year and with its last flight on October 5.

The German airline can offer onward connections to several destinations in Asia and the USA, served by the latest Airbus A380 and Boeing 747-8 aircraft. A new long-haul route is being opened by the company between Munich and Vancouver on the west coast of Canada. The airline already operates to Vancouver from Frankfurt.

In terms of passengers carried, Lufthansa is the world’s fourth largest airline and it serves over 400 destinations. From its offices and corporate headquarters in Cologne, the airline employs over 115,000 people worldwide and is part of the world’s largest airline alliance, the Star Alliance, of which it was a founder member in 1997.

Lufthansa currently has 236 new aircraft on order as part of its €23 bn fleet regeneration program.

Lufthansa strike causes passenger chaos

Cabin crew that work for Germany-based airline, Lufthansa, are striking today, disrupting flights and throwing the travel plans of thousands of passengers into chaos.

For the second time in the last few days the carrier has had to cancel nearly 200 flights due to strike action by the cabin crew over pay and conditions. This latest walkout is scheduled for eight hours and will affect flights between London and another of Europe’s key hubs, Frankfurt.

Only last Friday, the cabin crew’s first strike grounded 200 flights, delaying 26,000 passengers at a cost of millions of pounds to the airline. This was an escalation of the 64 flights that Lufthansa initially thought would be grounded, and the knock-on effect was that congestion caused the closure of Frankfurt airport to inbound flights from Europe for several hours.

The cabin crew’s union, UFO, is campaigning for a five percent pay increase, and guarantees against outsourcing and the use of temporary workers, but this is against the backdrop of Lufthansa looking to cut its costs by £1.2bn as it suffers from rising fuel costs and competition from budget airlines. The airline’s offer is a 3.5 percent pay increase for longer working hours.

An announcement by Lufthansa said, ‘The Independent Flight Attendants Organisation (UFO) has again called cabin crews to strike on Tuesday, 4 September 2012, from 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Frankfurt, and from 1:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. (midnight) at Munich airports (German time). The strike at Berlin Tegel Airport has ended at 1:00 p.m. (German time). Flight operations from and to Berlin are still affected.’

Passengers should check Lufthansa’s website for updates on flight cancellations.

Lufthansa-ANA joint venture seeking to add new partners

Germany-based air carrier, Lufthansa and Japan-based air carrier, ANA, are looking to add new members to their existing joint venture to increase service routes between Europe and Japan.

Business Traveller said reported that the two firms are seeking antitrust immunity to add Swiss and Austrian, Lufthansa Group carriers, to the existing joint venture. The existing venture was formed after the carriers were granted immunity last summer and the agreement came into full force this April. Now the joint venture is seeking to expand by adding new partners.

Making a statement on the development, ANA said that the four carriers would launch sales initiatives and plan to launch joint sales and pricing products from spring 2013. ANA is expecting the move to expand its international network by 22 percent during 2012-13.

Lufthansa Confirms New UK – Berlin Routes

Germany-based airline, Lufthansa has confirmed that it will go ahead with its new routes to Berlin from the UK, despite the opening of Berlin’s new airport being postponed.

The company has confirmed that the new routes, to Berlin in Germany from Manchester and Birmingham in the UK, will go ahead on June 3 this year as previously scheduled, although it had initially timed the inauguration of the flights to coincide with the opening of Berlin’s new Brandenburg Airport. Owing to the delay in the opening of the new airport, the flights have now been scheduled to land at Berlin’s existing, Tegel Airport.

In addition, Lufthansa went on to confirm that its service to Berlin out of Heathrow, which runs three times daily and has traditionally used Tegel Airport, will continue to do so beyond the date that it was expected to switch to the new airport.

The delay in opening the new airport is reported to be due to problems with fire security systems and it now seems unlikely that it will be open within 2012. Lufthansa and Air Berlin were both due to commence operations there this year and are both reportedly planning to claim damages for the disruption caused to their schedules.

Lufthansa’s expansion plans, which have been tailored to facilities at the new airport, included an increase from nine to fifteen aircraft, enabling it to increase the number of cities that it serves from Berlin to thirty-eight from eight at present. The scheduling for all of this expansion has had to be adapted to facilities at Tegel.

UK Airlines Announce Passenger Traffic Increases in April 2012

International Airlines Group (IAG), the UK-based airline holding company that owns British Airways, has announced a growth in traffic in April 2012.

The company has reported that premium traffic increased by 4.8% in April 2012 compared to the same month in 2011. Premium traffic has outgrown the company’s traffic for economic fares, which increased by 2.6% in April 2012, from that in April 2011.

Total traffic for the company increased by 2.9% in April 2012, compared to April 2011, while capacity increased by 0.5% for the month compared to that for April 2011. Passenger load factor in April 2012 has increased by 1.9 point to 81.6% over the prior year period.

The company has reported that the results are not inclusive of its newly acquired Bmi airline from Dutch airline, Lufthansa. The airline acquisition was completed on April 20, 2012.

Earlier, Easyjet, a UK-based airline, reported growth in passenger traffic by 8.6% in April 2012, to 5.1 million, compared to 4.7 million in April 2011. The airline load factors increased from 86.5% in April 2012, to 89.3% in April 2011.

Another UK-based airline, Ryanair, has reported a 6% increase in passenger traffic in April 2012, from 6.8 million in April 2011, to 7.2 million. Load factor in April 2012 has lowered by 1% to 81%, compared to last year.

 

Lufthansa to Reintroduce Premium Economy Class

Lufthansa, the Germany-based airline, is considering cost savings through several measures, and may reintroduce its premium economy class of seating.

In a letter addressed to the company employees, Carsten Spohr, a member of the airline company’s board, said that the company is aiming to achieve €1.5 billion in savings through several cost cutting initiatives. One such initiative is removal of first class on several routes and the reintroduction of premier economy class on some routes.

Spohr emphasised in his letter that the company is in difficult phase, and is affected by issues such as air traffic control, carbon emissions, the ban on night flights, and competition from low-cost airlines. The company is planning to cease passenger capacity expansions in 2012, and has withheld all plans to upgrade its intercontinental fleet, Spohr added. The company is also looking at job cuts and to negotiate airport fees, in order to lower the costs.

In 2011, the Lufthansa Group reported a loss of around €13 million, and recently the company sold off its subsidiary, bmi, British Midland International, airline to International Airlines, the parent company of UK-based airline company, British Airways.

In an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, Andreas Bartels, a Lufthansa spokesman in Frankfurt, said, ‘Everything will remain just as it is for customers, there is Lufthansa and Germanwings. But duplicated functions such as bookings control, route planning and ticketing can be merged behind the scenes to save money.’

The company also owns Austrian Airlines, which reported an operating loss of €62m in 2011.

European Commission Releases Statement on bmi Sale

The European Commission (EC), the executive body for the European Union, has released a statement defending its decision to approve the sale of British Midland International (bmi), an airline owned by Germany-based Lufthansa, to British International Airlines Group (IAG), the parent company of British Airways.

Earlier Virgin Atlantic, an airline subsidiary of UK-based Virgin Group, had announced its intention to appeal against the sale of bmi, although the sales process will not be affected by this appeal. Virgin Atlantic has claimed that the EC has approved the sale too quickly, and the 14 airport slots that BA are giving up at Heathrow airport, as a proviso of the £172.5 million deal, were insufficient to ensure healthy competition in the UK aviation market.

In a statement, the EC has clarified its stand by saying, ‘We are confident that the commitments proposed by IAG address all competition issues identified and we stand by our decision to clear the transaction subject to these conditions.

In this case, a decision was reached in 35 working days, which is not particularly fast. For example, out of 319 adopted merger and acquisition decisions in 2011, 98 percent were adopted within this timeframe.

Moreover, as described in our best practices guidelines, the commission held in-depth pre-notification contacts with the parties as early as November 2011, well before the notification took place on February 10, 2012.’

Virgin Atlantic will be able to appeal to the General Court of the EU within two months of publication of a full report by the EC on the sale of bmi to IAG.

British Airways takeover will lead to 1,200 job losses at BMI

The takeover of BMI buy the parent company of British Airways (IAG) will lead to a possible 1,200 job losses, the company announced today.

The takeover was approved by the European Commission in March 2012 after the Commission looked into the integration of the two airlines operations at Heathrow Airport.

Most of the job losses will be at BMI’s head office at Castle Donington in Derbyshire.  However, British Airways were keen to stress that up to 1,500 jobs have been saved by the takeover, including 1,100 cabin crew, pilots and engineers and up to 400 passenger service personnel at Heathrow’s Terminal 1.

Keith Williams, British Airways’ chief executive, said ‘BMI is heavily loss making and is not a viable business as it stands today. Our proposals would secure around 1,500 jobs that would otherwise have been lost. As we look to restructure the business and restore profitability, job losses are deeply regrettable but inevitable. We will work with the unions to explore as many options as possible and are already working with industry partners.’

He also said ‘This deal is good news for our customers and will offer new destinations, new routes and new schedules in due course. For customers with BMI bookings to or from Heathrow this summer, it is business as usual and customers can continue to book with confidence.’

BMI was previously owned by German carrier Lufthansa and had been losing over £150m per year before the takeover, carrying 3 million passengers per year and flying to 25 countries around Europe.