Paurus Nekoo, General Manager Sales India, Lufthansa Group talks importance of Indian market for Lufthansa, its offerings to India as well as trends and policies impacting the Indian aviation industry.
The Lufthansa Group offers three strong and distinctive airline brands: Lufthansa German Airlines, SWISS and Brussels Airlines in India. The Group collectively offers a wide choice of 67 weekly flights from 5 cities in India. Lufthansa introduced A350 aircraft on the Munich-Delhi and Munich-Mumbai route earlier this year.
How would explain the unfolding scenario in Indian civil aviation industry?
The aviation sector in India has been growing consistently and we feel this trend will only continue in the years to come. Initiatives such as the new civil aviation policy by the Ministry of Civil Aviation are a good sign and a boost for the domestic aviation sector which will benefit the larger aviation eco-system as well. We are also pleased to see the strategic initiatives planned by the government with regards to positioning India as a MRO hub in Asia, strengthening the domestic infrastructure and increasing connectivity. We believe there was a need for such change and we look forward to more such planned policies in the future that will leverage India’s potential to be among the global top three nations in terms of domestic and international passenger traffic.
How much does India contributes to your overall passenger business?
With more than half a century of presence, India is an important strategic market for Lufthansa Group. Majority of the Indian passengers who fly on Lufthansa Group travel beyond our hubs –Frankfurt, Munich, Zurich, Brussels, to other destinations across our vast network.
As part of Lufthansa’s policy, we do not share performance figures. However, we are very pleased to say that Lufthansa Group has received an overwhelming response from the Indian market. There is a consistent growth in the load factor and we are expecting to see growth in passengers’ numbers.
What is the profile of Indian customers who travel with you?
The profile of the Indian customers flying with us is very diverse. We have the top of the society who appreciate the subtle European concept of ultra-luxury. The time conscious business traveler who appreciates our efficiency and reliability. The leisure travelers and families venturing to exotic destinations on our network. The ‘baby boomer’ generation looking for more comfort on our Premium Economy and with the summer just getting over the first-time students seeking new adventures trusting Lufthansa Group as they fly to distant shores.
At present, we have a 60:40 ratio for business and leisure travelers but it has to be noted that that people who travel with us on business often end up taking leisure trips with families
What products do you offer for the leisure and corporate travellers? How is the performance of business class from India?
At a global level, to reaffirm its competitiveness and attractiveness, Lufthansa Group has declared 2017, the year of Digitalization and Innovation. The company is investing about 500 million euros till 2020 to create more individualised products and services and to ensure a smooth travel experience for our guests.
With Lufthansa FlyNet we offer internet connection on long haul routes which allows our customers to check emails, download documents, chat with friends via Facebook or send their exact arrival time to their loved ones via SMS.
We are happy to share that our Business Class services have been well received by our customers in India.
Who are your competitors in India and what is your strategy to combat competition in India?
The steady growth of international air traffic to and from India has served as a catalyst for leading airlines across the world to expand their operations within the Indian market. We believe competition is healthy as it brings out the best in the market and its players and that’s our only view of competition.
We plan to maintain our position as the leading carrier from Europe in this market by offering the best products and services we have to our customers in India, working closely together with our joint venture and our Star Alliance partners. Earlier this year, we have introduced Lufthansa’s game changing new aircraft Airbus A350 on our Delhi – Munich and Mumbai - Munich route. Brussels Airlines which is part of the Lufthansa Group, also started non-stop Mumbai to Brussels flights from end of March 2017.