Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) of the Lufthansa Group will be offering one weekly flight to Hurghada during the 2018/19 winter schedule, which lasts from October to March, said Frank Van Den Steen, senior director of sales for North Africa, Near East, and Turkey at Lufthansa, adding that the Lufthansa Group currently offers 30 weekly flights from Cairo to its four hubs in Europe.
In 2005, SWISS was successfully integrated into the Lufthansa Group. Today, the Lufthansa Group is divided into three strategic pillars: hub airlines, point-to-point business, and service companies.
SWISS currently operates under the hub airlines pillar along with Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines, connecting passengers via Switzerland to the rest of the world.
Daily News Egypt sat down for an exclusive interview with Van Den Steen, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:
How many flights do you operate with Egypt, including summer, winter flight schedules? Do you mull flights’ adjustments in future?
Austrian Airlines offers daily flights to Vienna, which includes a special baggage allowance of two pieces. Lufthansa offers two daily flights to Frankfurt and four weekly flights to Munich. SWISS offers four weekly flights to Zurich.
Furthermore, Brussels Airlines offers two weekly flights from Marsa Alam and three weekly flights from Hurghada to Brussels. SWISS will be offering one weekly flight to Hurghada during the 2018/19 winter schedule, which is from October to March.
SWISS sister company Edelweiss offers two weekly flights from Marsa Alam and three weekly flights from Hurghada to Zurich.
How many local airports do you operate at in Egypt?
The Lufthansa Group currently operates flights to and from Cairo, Hurghada, and Marsa Alam.
How many passengers did you carry to, from Egypt in 2017? What about expectations of passenger numbers in 2018?
In 2017, the Lufthansa Group presented historical results by carrying 130 million passengers, which is more than ever before.
Ticket prices were increased after flotation in Egypt in November 2016; how are your ticket prices now in comparison to 2016?
Ticket prices rise on the market in a highly competitive environment. There is hardly any other industry in which supply and demand, as well as competition, has such a strong, dynamic, and fast impact on prices.
Many factors go into determining Lufthansa Group ticket prices. Our ticket prices are dynamic, and market driven. Some of the main factors include, but are not limited to, routes, operational costs, travel class, and market demand.
How many aeroplanes does your fleet consist of? What about your fleet’s modernisation plans—clarifying timing, expected costs, types of aircraft?
The fleet modernisation programme of the Lufthansa Group is progressing across all airlines, as the network portfolio is being optimised and measures to cut fuel costs are being implemented.
As of the end of 2017, the Lufthansa Group fleet consisted of 728 aircraft, which was 111 more aircraft than 2016. The average age for the aircraft in 2017 was 11.4 years.
According to the 2017 order list, the Lufthansa Group plans to take delivery of 183 additional aircraft by 2025, which serve mainly to replace older aircraft in the existing fleet. This year, the Lufthansa Group is expecting to take delivery of up to 30 new aircraft. As part of the fleet modernisation programme, the Lufthansa Group is focusing on ordering modern and environmentally friendly aircraft. Some of the aircraft include the world’s most modern long-haul aircraft—the Airbus A350—as well as the Airbus A320neo, which Lufthansa was the first to purchase this aircraft type. Other modern aircraft include the C-series and B777.
Recently, in May 2018, the supervisory board approved the order for 16 additional aircraft. The list price of the 16 aircraft is approximately €2.1bn. Among the order are two Boeing 777-300ER long-haul aircraft for SWISS, which are expected to supplement the existing SWISS fleet beginning in early 2020 and will be used to expand the route network. An additional two Boeing 777F aircraft will also be ordered for Lufthansa Cargo.
The modern freight aircraft will replace MD11 cargo planes in the future. This will decrease fuel consumption, noise emissions, and unit costs at the same time. The investment in fleet expansion at SWISS and a more modern cargo fleet reflect the economic success of the two companies.
The Lufthansa Group will continue focusing on further improving the customer’s travel experience, optimising the route network and the fleet, and pursuing cost reduction initiatives.
How do you assess doing business in Egypt from an aviation investor’s point of view?
The Lufthansa Group has been operating in Egypt for almost 60 years. Egypt remains an important market for the Lufthansa Group. As mentioned above, we have expanded our offering by adding a weekly flight from Geneva to Hurghada starting October this year.
Do you face any challenges in working in Egyptian market?
As an airline, we are used to working in diverse markets. Our daily business involves building bridges by connecting passengers from one country to another in the safest, most comfortable, and most convenient way. Egypt remains an important market for the Lufthansa Group, and we will continue this long-standing relationship.
In terms of cargo, do you work in air freight? If yes, can you specify amount of commodities you transported in 2017? And what about your expectations for 2018?
Swiss WorldCargo is the airfreight division of SWISS. Headquartered at Zurich Airport, Swiss WorldCargo offers a comprehensive range of logistics solutions for transporting high-value and care-intensive consignments to some 130 destinations in over 84 countries.
The extensive Swiss WorldCargo network of airfreight services is further supplemented by daily truck connections between key business centres. As a reliable and innovative service provider within the Lufthansa Group, Swiss WorldCargo is consistently committed to delivering Swiss quality to its airfreight customers, and makes a substantial contribution to SWISS’s overall profitability.
Lufthansa Cargo ranks among the world’s leading air freight carriers. In the 2017 business year, the airline transported around 1.6m tonnes of freight and mail and sold 8.9bn revenue tonne-km.
The company currently employs about 4,500 people worldwide. Lufthansa Cargo focuses on the airport-to-airport business. The cargo carrier serves around 300 destinations in more than 100 countries with its own fleet of freighters, the belly capacities of passenger aircraft operated by Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, and Eurowings, and an extensive road feeder service network. The bulk of the cargo business is routed through Frankfurt Airport. Lufthansa Cargo is a wholly owned Lufthansa subsidiary of Deutsche Lufthansa AG.
Recently, both Lufthansa Cargo and Swiss WorldCargo received a DHL Care Award for their quality, expertise, and innovation in transporting temperature-sensitive cargo.
Do you have any CSR activities in Egypt? How many projects, and what about future projects?
The Help Alliance is the aid organisation of the Lufthansa Group and their employees, and it forms the central pillar of the group’s activities in the area of social responsibility. As an internationally active company and member of the German and international community, the Lufthansa Group takes on responsibility beyond its regular business activities in dealing with the challenges currently facing society.
As the Lufthansa Group, we have the Help Alliance projects, with projects implemented in several regions around the world.
Aside from worldwide Help Alliance projects, our employees engage in additional CSR activities to give back to the community. One specific local project involved Lufthansa Group employees during the last Ramadan. A team of 22 employees from the Cairo office stayed overnight to pack 1,500 boxes of food for families in need during Ramadan. Each box contained 27 km of food such as rice, pasta, sugar, tea, ghee, and cooking oil for less fortunate families.
The parcels were then handed over to the non-profit organisation “Restoring Hope”, which was founded by Ingy El Kattan, a local Lufthansa employee, and her husband, to be distributed to families in need. We also have a local collection box at our office in which the contributions go to the NGO “Medicine for All” for donating extra medicine and cash for people in need.
What about the 2017 revenues, profits? Goals of 2018? How was the performance in first months of 2017?
We presented our results in March; 2017 was a very good year for our customers, our employees, and our shareholders. In 2017, the group carried 130 million passengers—more than ever before.
A lot of the success was due to the fact that the demand was very high and we were able to further reduce our costs. The Lufthansa Group is financially in a very robust situation, allowing for further modernisation of one of the leading airline groups in Europe. Lufthansa’s target is to continue strengthening our premium position, increase profitability, and reduce costs.
Recently, the Lufthansa Group airlines were honoured with four Skytrax World Airline Awards.
How many job opportunities do you offer?
The Lufthansa Group is the world’s number one aviation group, including five airlines (Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Eurowings, Lufthansa, SWISS) and other service companies around the world. The group has around 130,000 employees around the world, coming from 140 different nationalities.
How many destinations do you fly to around world? Do you mull flying to extra destinations in future? If yes, what are new cities will you fly to?
Lufthansa Group Network flies to more than 343 destinations in 103 countries with 15,415 weekly frequencies. We just recently introduced some new destinations for the upcoming winter schedule. This includes Agadir, Morocco and Eilat, Israel being served by both Lufthansa Hubs. New LH flights will be operated to Trieste, Italy and Thessaloniki, Greece from Frankfurt. We will also offer additional flights to Edinburgh, Scotland and Tromsø, Norway from our 5- Star airport in Munich.
Would you please explain historical background between SWISS, Lufthansa?
In 2005, SWISS was successfully integrated into the Lufthansa Group. Today, the Lufthansa Group is divided into the three strategic pillars, including hub airlines, point-to-point business, and service companies.
SWISS currently operates under the Hub Airlines pillar (along with Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines), connecting passengers via Switzerland to the rest of the world.
What about global company in terms of its establishment, destinations, revenues, other aspects?
The Lufthansa Group is the world’s largest aviation group in terms of turnover, as well as the market leader in Europe’s airline sector. The group strives to be the “First Choice in Aviation” for its customers, employees, shareholders, and partners. Safety, quality, reliability, and innovation are the prime credentials and priorities of all its business activities.
The Lufthansa Group is divided into the three strategic areas of hub airlines, point-to-point business, and service companies. The group’s network carriers, with their premium brands of Lufthansa, SWISS, and Austrian Airlines, serve its home market from their Frankfurt, Munich, Zurich, and Vienna hubs.
With its Eurowings brand, the group also offers short- and long-haul point-to-point services in the growing private travel market. And with its service companies, which are all global market leaders in their individual industries, the Lufthansa Group has found success in further areas of the aviation business.
Lufthansa Group airlines serve 343 destinations in 103 countries, offering 15,415 weekly frequencies. The current fleet is comprised of 728 aircraft, as of December 2017, and the group will continue to take delivery of new aircraft until 2025. In 2017, the Lufthansa Group employed around 130,000 personnel, welcomed 130 million passengers aboard its flights, and generated sales of around €35.6bn.
The Lufthansa Group is headed by the five-member executive board. Carsten Spohr is chairperson and CEO, Thorsten Dirks is in charge of Eurowings and aviation services, Harry Hohmeister bears responsibility for the commercial management of the group’s hub airlines and airports, Ulrik Svensson is the head of finance and IT, and Bettina Volkens is in charge of HR and legal affairs.