The LH Group video said it all: almost like the good old days, but with masks – welcoming flight attendants, hard-working cargo teams, shiny airport concourses, busy catering departments.
Certainly the message from senior execs for the LH Group (Lufthansa, SWISS and Austrian Airlines) on a Zoom call last week is that business is up, demand is rising and routes are being re-established.
Brendan Shashoua, the brand new Director of Sales, Canada for the LH Group was on the call. “The recovery is in full swing. Canada is very important to the group, and we are very pleased that Toronto will be the first destination to be served by Lufthansa’s new 787-9 aircraft.” There is even a LH Group customer service centre in Peterborough, ON.
The three carriers serve Canada from four hubs (FRA, MCH, ZRH and VIE) to YVR, YYZ and YUL, and are looking at re-introducing BRU from YUL on Brussels Airlines (SN) as well as adding other routes in 2022 and beyond. There are currently 34 flights offered by the group every week between Europe and Canada.
The strongest recovery at the moment is in the VFR (visiting friends and family) and leisure sectors. As with any European carrier, many passengers connect to final destinations and sales this past summer were strong to Iran, Greece, Portugal, Egypt and Lebanon, which the executive team pointed to as proof of a pent-up demand for family travel.
“On the corporate side, we are seeing some uptick in some markets, as it’s clear that personal interaction is still important,” remarked Frank Naeve, LH Group’s Vice President of Passenger Airline Sales, The Americas.
There is also a commitment to sustainability, where “we can forge a leadership position,” said Naeve.
“We are one of the largest customers in the industry for sustainable biogenic fuels and are committed to improved waste management and elimination of plastics.” They are aiming for the IATA target of net emissions reduced 50% by 2030 and net zero by 2050.
For travellers in the time of COVID, the airline has installed hospital-grade filters on aircraft and enforces social distancing while boarding but surgical/ N95 masks (not fabric) are still required inflight. It’s clearly a balancing act to combine re-introduction of their famous inflight service with the necessity of reducing contact.
“The market recovery has been a roller coaster, but the Lufthansa group is invested strongly in development of capacity in Canada,” commented Naeve.