Lufthansa Eyes Asia Growth, Relauches Munich-Singapore

 - March 29, 2018, 10:56 AM
Lufthansa’s Airbus A350-900 will gradually replace the A340-600 on long haul routes. (Photo: Lufthansa Group)

Lufthansa Group expects to strengthen its presence in Asia with Lufthansa Airlines’ March 27 relaunch of a route connecting Munich and Singapore with an Airbus A350-900. The five weekly flights increase the group’s capacity between the two countries by 40 percent.

Lufthansa chief commercial officer Steffen Harbarth said passengers can connect to between 75 and 77 flights via Munich within three hours of their arrival from Singapore. Lufthansa canceled the route in October 2012 due to poor profitability and relatively higher operating costs associated with the older Airbus A340-300.

Lufthansa hopes to increase capacity to Asia by 23 percent this year. In last year’s fourth quarter alone, the group increased capacity to the region by 5 percent and increased yield by 0.6 percent. The numbers reflect a change from a Swiss International Airlines’ Airbus A340-400 to a Boeing 777-300ER. Next, Lufthansa Group member Austrian Airlines plans to begin Vienna-Tokyo in May this year with a 777-200ER.

Lufthansa vice president for Asia-Pacific Dieter Vranckx said the proportion of North American to Asian markets amounts to around 60 percent to 40 percent, respectively, and the airline seeks an even better balance with more service across the Asia-Pacific region, especially China.

Part of Lufthansa’s recent rebranding involved the “digitalization” of the airline. It became the first European airline to enter the WeChat Chinese social media app in 2015, and fellow group members Swiss and Austrian followed suit last year. It also also used Direct Connect and other Chinese applications such as Tuna, C-Trip, and Fliggy to ensure direct booking with the German system.

While Lufthansa observed that most Chinese customers continued to purchase tickets with travel agents and tour groups, it also saw a trend toward more individual travelers buying tickets directly from the airline or through an online platform.

Meanwhile, Lufthansa’s joint venture with Singapore Airlines has seen a 20 percent increase in capacity since it began last October. In all, the joint venture offered 34,690 seats on 51 flights weekly. The JV also allowed Lufthansa to enter the Australian continent with a codeshare with Singapore Airlines and Silkair.