German airline group the Lufthansa Group said it has optimised its four hubs where its network airlines operate in and is preparing for “moderate growth” in the summer of 2019.
The hubs of Munich, Frankfurt, Zurich and Vienna, where Lufthansa, Swiss International Air Lines and Austrian Airlines are based are all being fine-tuned as part of a focus on the flexible multi-hub system.
The Lufthansa Group said newly integrated processes mean it is “increasingly able to move fleets and traffic wherever the conditions are best for quality, growth and cost effectiveness”.
Specifically, growth will be accelerated in Munich, to develop the Bavarian capital into a hub with a focus on Asia. Lufthansa Group said it anticipates high single-digit year-over-year (YOY) growth for its network airlines in 2019.
In addition to increased frequencies in the flights offered from Munich to Seoul and Singapore, summer 2019 will see the first ever daily connection from Munich to Bangkok. And to further strengthen the portfolio of flights to Asia, the connection to Osaka (Japan) will be moved from Frankfurt to Munich.
The Lufthansa Group said the transfer of five Airbus A380 aircraft from Frankfurt to Munich in summer 2018 was “very well received on the market and has been a resounding success”. In view of these results, Lufthansa said it is considering transferring additional A380 aircraft from Frankfurt to Munich in 2020.
Three A320s are being moved from the Frankfurt hub to Munich to support the expansion of feeder traffic while three smaller Bombardier CRJ900 will be transferred from Munich to Frankfurt in exchange.
Munich will also be reinforced with additional First Class offerings. To support this, the majority of the Frankfurt-based A340-600 fleet will be moved to Munich.
The strategic focus of the Frankfurt hub will continue to be on optimising the destination mix in terms of increased quality. Lufthansa said it will curb its growth at this hub in order to improve on-time ratings and operational stability.
For 2019, Lufthansa Group anticipates low single-digit YOY growth for the network airlines at this hub. Lufthansa is starting into the 2018/19 winter season with four new destinations from Frankfurt. Eilat (Israel), Agadir (Morocco), Trieste (Italy) and Thessaloniki (Greece) are new additions to the roster.
Lufthansa is also further expanding its route network to the USA. Starting 3 May 2019, the airline will offer its first connections from Frankfurt to Austin.
As for Zurich, home of Swiss International Air Lines, there are plans to expand on the growth trajectory and to continue to the moderate growth. The main focus in this is on the expansion of activity in Europe.
The 2018/19 winter flight schedule includes a new destination: Bremen. And Swiss is now offering Bordeaux (France), Kiev (Ukraine), Brindisi (Italy) and the German island of Sylt as new year-round destinations.
Austrian Airlines in Vienna will be significantly expanding its European route network in the upcoming 2018/19 winter flight schedule. Beginning in late October 2018, more than 40 additional flights per week will be taking off to 14 destinations, including to Berlin, Düsseldorf and Hamburg but also other European destinations such as Copenhagen (Denmark), Kiev (Ukraine), Athens (Greece) and Kraków (Poland).
This increase is made possible by increased efficiencies in the route network. In addition to the new European flights, Austrian Airlines is also increasing some of its flight frequencies to North America, strengthening Vienna as a Lufthansa Group hub.
Deutsche Lufthansa member of the executive board and head of hub management, Harry Hohmeister said: “The goal of the entire industry should be increased quality. This means that it is also essential for the infrastructure on the ground and in the air to keep pace with the growth of the industry. Existing deficits must be removed.
“We are growing where the cost and quality are right. This is also why we are waiting until next summer to decide, based on the development of the hubs, where the new Boeing 777-9 aircraft will be taking off from as of 2020.”