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Spohr...focused on improving its product as it tries to win back market share

Lufthansa sees good May traffic as new seats lure fliers

MIAMI, June 8, 2015

A positive trend in April traffic at Germany's Lufthansa continued last month as well with new business class and premium economy seats attracting passengers, said its chief executive Carsten Spohr.

Lufthansa said last month its April passenger numbers rose 6.7 per cent to 9.14 million, though the load factor, or proportion of seats sold, dropped 1.4 percentage points to 78.1 per cent. It is due to publish May traffic figures on Wednesday.

Spohr said the crash of a plane run by its Germanwings unit at the end of March, suspected to have been deliberately caused by the co-pilot, had not affected passenger demand.

"When it comes to safety, Lufthansa has a reputation for safety, which has not been hurt or damaged by this tragic accident," said Spohr, speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Spohr, who holds a pilot's licence himself, said premium economy bookings were 10 percent ahead of its original business plan.

Lufthansa has been investing €3 billion ($3.3 billion) in improving its product as it tries to win back market share from the Gulf carriers, which have especially hurt its business on routes to Asia.

Lufthansa has long called for a fair playing field when it comes to the Gulf carriers. The debate has taken on a new scale with allegations by three US carriers that the Gulf carriers received over $42 billion in illegal subsidies.

"It makes our discussion in Europe more credible," Spohr said. "Openness and fairness need to be balanced to create a market environment that everyone can live with."

He said, however, that the topic had so far not been a big issue at the meeting of the IATA board of governors. IATA members recognize that the expansion of the Gulf carriers affects some airlines more than others and airline CEOs had discussed the issue in a professional manner, Spohr said.

James Hogan, the chief executive of Abu Dhabi-based Etihad, said in an interview with Reuters earlier on Sunday that Etihad had demonstrated it was not receiving subsidies and noted the opposition came from a small number of carriers.

"We have not damaged U.S. interests, and in fact on the contrary, we've expanded the market. We're a good friend of America," he said.
 




Tags: Airline | Lufthansa | Passengers | seats |

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