Lufthansa Exec Says Premium Demand Holding Up

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Published: September 15, 2011

Lufthansa is still seeing stable demand for seats in the premium sections of its planes despite turbulence in financial markets, an executive at Germany’s largest airline said on Wednesday.

“We are still seeing that we can sell most of the additional premium capacity we introduced to the market in the summer,” Jens Bischof, sales chief of Lufthansa’s passenger business said on the sidelines of a travel conference in Cologne.

Business travel collapsed during the 2009 recession as firms cut jobs and curtailed expenses, but has recovered strongly since last year.

The current stock market turbulence and a swathe of job cuts in the financial industry could knock this recovery, experts fear.

“Of course we’re concerned, seeing the turbulences on the stock market and how that could hit the real economy,” Bischof said.

The very top end of the market also offered good growth opportunities and Lufthansa was keen to expand its private jet services into new world regions, Bischof said.

Lufthansa offers customers within Europe the chance to take a private jet to an airport, such as Frankfurt or Munich, where they can then board a long-haul flight.

“We were surprised by how it took off,” Bischof said. “The US is definitely an area we can look at and we could see possible engagement in an easterly direction,” although he added there were no concrete plans or timetable just yet.

He also said Lufthansa was considering introducing more flights and seats to tourist destinations, such as Mediterranean resorts, where German rivals include Condor, Air Berlin and TUIfly.

Asked on prices, he said a planned emissions trading scheme might result in higher fares.

“If it comes in one or the other form, it would be a burden which we would have to pass on to passengers in some way.”

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