For German airlines Lufthansa, India is a critical market, the airline serves seven destinations in India including Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Pune with a total of 52 flights a week. Lufthansa’s director south Aisa, Alex Hilgers spoke to Hindustan Times on a range of issues. Excerpts:
On recovery of the aviation sector
I think it will take another three to four years before the aviation sector starts looking up. This has been a difficult year for airlines the world over. For all airlines the yield per seat has been low. Premium passengers (first and business class) are integral to any airline’s business and have decreased by down by 20 per cent after the economic slow down. Our yields are low and we also have to offer low fares to compete with other international carriers. Despite the slow down our load factors continue to be in the 80 per cent range.
On entering domestic sector Lufthansa has no plans to enter the Indian domestic sector even if foreign direct investment is allowed. We need to digest certain investments that we have recently made. Lufthansa has no concrete plans as of now (to enter Indian domestic sector)
On India’s airports
Airports in Mumbai and Delhi airports should be more competitive. Indian airports should compete with airports in Hong Kong and Dubai that are not so expensive to operate from. Cheaper airports will attract more airlines and thus be in a better position. Airports can milk the airlines to a certain extent and we as airline operators also need to earn some profits.
On new products
What ever is new in Lufthansa is launched worldwide. So India will also see new products whenever we launch them. We have plans to introduce the A 380 from India to the United States but only when the airports are ready to take a plane that size.