x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Middle East bonanza for Lufthansa

Lufthansa expects to carry 1 million passengers from the region to Germany and beyond this year.

Carsten Schaeffer, the vice president for sales and services in south-east Europe, the Middle East and Africa, says the airline wants to bring more leisure travellers to the UAE. Sarah Dea / The National
Carsten Schaeffer, the vice president for sales and services in south-east Europe, the Middle East and Africa, says the airline wants to bring more leisure travellers to the UAE. Sarah Dea / The National

Lufthansa, Europe’s largest airline by revenue, said it was on track for a record year in the Middle East and expects 1 million passengers from the region to travel to Germany, elsewhere in Europe and beyond this year, up 10 per cent on 2012.

The airline is also aiming to benefit from European business and leisure travellers flying to the UAE.

“With Lufthansa holidays we have recently started a new offer in Germany, which also brings more leisure travellers to the UAE,” said Carsten Schaeffer, the vice president for sales and services in south-east Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Speaking at Dubai Airshow, he added: “Over 300,000 tourists from Germany will come in 2013 to Dubai – with our new initiative we will have a substantial share in this business.”

Lufthansa is halfway through an ambitious cost-cutting programme that it introduced as part of a fightback against Arabian Gulf carriers, including Emirates Airline and Etihad Airways, which have eroded its market share in recent years. Through its efficiency measures, the airline is seeking to boost its operating profit to €2.3 billion (Dh11.39bn) in 2015 up from €524 million this year.

Lufthana’s September decision to place an order for Boeing 777X planes, officially launched at the show, was vindicated yesterday after Emirates placed a US$76bn order for 150 of the new planes.

The German airline is also expanding its routes in the Middle East, particularly in Saudi Arabia. There is to be a new daily flight between Dammam and Frankfurt.

The Lufthansa Technik division, which fits out cabin interiors in VIP jets, was also at the show to woo potential customers.

Since Boeing launched the 747-8 last year, it has delivered nine to private customers. Of those, Lufthansa Technik has won three contracts to fit out the cabin interiors. All three will be delivered to customers in the Middle East.

“The 747-8 is the hottest ticket in town right now and the Middle East has a big customer base for that kind of aircraft,” Mr Schaeffer said, adding that interiors cost from $30m to $150m. “It’s usually at the higher end of this,” he said.

lgutcher@thenational.ae