Any time a country or region imposes any sort of visa stipulation - even if it’s a waiver - the travel industry sighs a collective groan, knowing the obstacles and headaches to come.
TORONTO — Lufthansa has been upgrading its Canadian routes with A350s now flying from Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. Lufthansa’s Hans deHaan, Senior Director, Canada, says the aircraft is a step forward with its passenger comfort and optimized cabin pressurization: “You can really notice when you step off the plane.”
DeHaan joined Lufthansa Group’s Tal Muscal, Director of Group Communications, The Americas and Frank Naeve, newly appointed (as of May 1) Vice President of Sales, The Americas for a round table discussion yesterday to discuss The Lufthansa Group’s (LHG) presence in the Canadian market and what to expect for the future.
In 2018 Lufthansa flew 142 million passengers, marking a record number for the Skytrax-rated 5-star airline. DeHaan says what makes Lufthansa unique from other airlines is its “extremely wide offering to areas around the world, the high standard of reliability, a great partnership with Air Canada, our product being up to where it should be. And we are a 5-star airline.”
Naeve said Lufthansa Group has 221 new planes on order scheduled to enter the fleet by 2027, at a price of approximately $43 billion. Lufthansa has plans to bring down the average age of its fleet, bring in 787 Dreamliners, new Boeing 777 planes and Airbus A-350s, which will replace the 747s.
LHG’s summer schedule involves 62 frequencies out of Canada into five European hubs: Frankfurt, Munich, Brussels, Vienna and Zurich.
Lufthansa’s 20+ year partnership with Air Canada continues and gives travellers a high level of flexibility.
Lufthansa’s connection to Canada is strengthened through collaboration with the travel trade. A sales force of 20 reps is in touch with corporate accounts and holds seminars for agents with updates on the operations within Lufthansa.
For over 20 years Lufthansa has also worked to improve its position in terms of environmental issues and social responsibility. Purchasing 40 new long-haul aircraft of the newest generation of 20 A350s and 20 B787s, Lufthansa Group aims to modernize its fleet. These plans are part of a “comprehensive program we are putting in place where we quite clearly want to make a contribution to reducing out CO2 emissions and having a positive impact,” says Naeve.
Lufthansa also wants to be a 2.9 L engine carrier, down from 4L, and in the next decade plans to eliminate the use of regular fuel consumption vehicles on the ground, transitioning to electric vehicles in airports and making its facilities greener.
And in May 2019 the Lufthansa Group officially launched ‘help alliance Americas’ as a sub-organization of its long-standing aid organization, ‘help alliance worldwide’, focused on social commitment projects and charitable outreach. Says Naeve: “We see it as our responsibility not just to do business, but to be part of society and make a contribution wherever we can.” In 2018, Lufthansa covered all the costs of administration, project assistance, fundraising and communication at help alliance gGmbH to ensure 100% of all other donations go to fund aid projects.
Meanwhile with its Lufthansa Innovation Hub in Berlin, Lufthansa is using data to improve the passenger experience. “What is important to us is that we deliver these ideas to add value for the customer effectively,” says Naeve.
DeHaan touched on Lufthansa’s onboard experience. With an upgraded selection of movie choices, those who fly Lufthansa will notice that “the food is fantastic, the service is very personalized, and it’s a very nice experience”.
Touching on the diversity of each airline within Lufthansa Group – including Lufthansa, SWISS and Austrian Airlines – Naeve said: “Part of what we do as the Lufthansa Group is provide a high level of service and comfort, but each airline retains the positives that they bring from their own cultural background, which is appreciated by our passengers.”
Naeve has 30 years of experience at Lufthansa Group, working in Germany, China and Singapore. Talking about his goals for his new role, he says he hopes to work on “increasing a footprint in the Americas by growing the network and linking new cities and increasing frequencies by meeting customers, teams, partners and stakeholders. Also important is working to further improve the offer to the customers through Lufthansa’s joint venture with Air Canada.”