Lufthansa planning to increase capacity as travel demand surges

Lufthansa planning to increase capacity as travel demand surges

Lufthansa Group is focusing on ramping up capacity in Thailand this year with the aim of hitting 61% of the available seat kilometres reached in 2019, thanks to a positive outlook on leisure travel demand.

Stefan Molnar, general manager for Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam and the Mekong region for Lufthansa Group Airlines, said that this target was achievable as border reopenings had created stronger demand.

The average load factor in Thailand in March and April increased to 79%, from only 33% for the whole of 2021.

"As Songkran is coming, people start to fly again, both inbound and outbound, which leads to an optimistic outlook for this year," Mr Molnar said.

Lufthansa Group is considered to be the biggest European airline group in Thailand, with its carriers including Lufthansa, Austrian, Swiss, Brussels Airlines and Eurowings.

Mr Molnar said the group is now offering daily Lufthansa flights from Bangkok to Munich from March 28, daily flights via Austrian Airlines to Vienna, and four weekly flights to Zurich with Swiss.

Flights to Zurich will be increased to five and then six a week in June and July, respectively.

Meanwhile, Edelweiss Air's Zurich-Phuket route will resume in the upcoming winter schedule of 2022/23.

Mr Molnar said the easing of pre-arrival RT-PCR tests on April 1 was a good start, before Thailand eases further throughout this year.

Sabrina Winter, Lufthansa's head of sales for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said leisure travel and the "visiting friends and relatives" segment, especially in short-haul and transatlantic flights, were leading the recovery.

However, the corporate segment remains slow with only gradual improvements.

The group currently operates a 713-aircraft fleet, compared to 757 aircraft at the end of 2020, and it flies to 320 destinations.

Global bookings for Easter and summer are slightly above pre-pandemic levels.

Its global passenger numbers last year stood at 47 million, an increase of 29% from 2020.

Ms Winter said the group has implemented sustainable cost savings for 2020-24, with a target to save €3.5 billion.

The company has currently achieved €2.7 billion in cost savings from measures such as a cut in labour costs and operational optimisation.

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