TORONTO — Passenger traffic numbers are ramping up slowly but surely for the world’s airlines, and that includes the three Lufthansa Group carriers – Lufthansa, SWISS and Austrian Airlines – currently serving the Canadian market.
More passengers mean more flights, and for the upcoming winter 2021-22 season Lufthansa Group will offer 28 weekly flights from Canada to its hubs in Europe. That’s three-quarters of 2019 levels. “That is really something we are proud of, and shows the commitment of the Lufthansa Group towards the Canadian market,” says Brendan Shashoua, Lufthansa Group’s new Director of Sales, Canada.
Shashoua offered an update on Lufthansa Group’s plans for the Canadian market at an online Q&A session this morning with the Canadian media.
He’s just a few months into his new post as Lufthansa Group’s Director of Sales, Canada, but he’s not new to the company, with more than 10 years of experience in other roles. Shashoua took over from Hans DeHaan, Senior Director Canada, Lufthansa Group, who recently retired.
Shashoua outlined Lufthansa Group’s route network out of its current three Canadian gateways – Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver – to four of its European hubs, including Frankfurt, Munich, Zurich and Vienna. Currently Lufthansa Group has 34 weekly flights into Europe from Canada.
“Recovery is in full swing and I’m happy to say that Canada continues to be a success story for the Lufthansa Group,” he said.
Passenger traffic from this market on Lufthansa, SWISS and Austrian Airlines aircraft has been buoyed by easing of Canada’s border restrictions, including the Sept. 7 reopening of Canada’s borders to fully vaccinated international travellers. Having the EU reopen to Canadians on July 1 was also welcome news.
While the focus right now is on Lufthansa, SWISS and Austrian Airlines, Shashoua said Eurowings is scheduled to offer flights to Frankfurt from both Calgary and Halifax starting in 2022. In February 2020 Calgary had just gotten word about Eurowing service to Frankfurt – it was set to start June 1, 2020 – when the pandemic struck weeks later.
Calgary and also Vancouver will also get flights to Zurich with another Lufthansa Group carrier, Edelweiss, in summer 2022.
Joining Shashoua for this morning’s online Q&A was Frank Naeve, Lufthansa Group’s Vice President of Passenger Airline Sales, The Americas, as well as Tal Muscal, Director of Group Communications, The Americas, and Christina Semmel, Corporate Communiations, The Americas.
Naeve offered his take on how Lufthansa Group has navigated the pandemic globally. “I think we can all agree that for the travel industry as a whole, and for the airlines, it’s been quite a roller coaster over the last year and a half with the pandemic. And we have seen a clear correlation between the development in the health situation, the development of travel restrictions, and the ability as well as the desire to travel from our guests.”
The key word for air travel’s recovery is confidence, says Naeve. “Our guests require confidence in being able to travel. And we’ve seen that return significantly over the summer months, and we expect that to continue into 2022.”
For the winter months, on routes crisscrossing the north Atlantic, Naeve says Lufthansa Group will have 237 weekly frequencies. “That is really a reflection of the rebound in demand,” he said. So far the recovery is being driven by the leisure market, he added.
He had words of praise for Star Alliance partner Air Canada: “Everything we do in Canada, we are very proud to work very closely with Air Canada, our longstanding partner in the Canadian market. We believe that the work we do with Air Canada offers customers more choice, more connections … that was definitely the case during the pandemic. And as both carriers expand their networks moving forward, that will hopefully continue to be the case.”
Naeve also spoke to Lufthansa Group’s focus on sustainability. “We are committed to IATA’s targets to reduce net emissions by 50% by 2030, and net zero by 2050. We really see it as an opportunity. We can forge a leadership position on this.”
Some 177 new aircraft will be joining the Lufthansa Group fleet over the next few years. Noteworthy for the immediate future, in 2022 Toronto will be the first destination to welcome Lufthansa’s new Boeing 787-9 aircraft.