Lufthansa plans gradual capacity growth in North America

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Lufthansa Group plans to gradually increase capacity on its flights to North America, says chief executive Christoph Franz.

The German airline group plans “above proportional growth” for the region as compared to the rest of its network over the next few years, he says at a media event in New York on 30 January. Much of this growth will come from introducing larger aircraft on existing routes, he says.

For example, Lufthansa adds at least 12 seats per flight to a market when it replaces an up to 352-seat Boeing 747-400 with an up to 364-seat Boeing 747-8 on a route.

The group has not released capacity guidance for 2014 but available seat kilometres (ASK) grew 1% across its network in 2013.

Austrian Airlines, Lufthansa and Swiss plan to add a few new flights to North America in 2014. These include new service between Vienna and Newark on Austrian and between Munich and Mexico City on Lufthansa, as well as additional seasonal frequencies on Lufthansa’s Frankfurt-Montreal and Munich-Toronto routes.

“We feel that the North Atlantic, for us, is an attractive growth market,” says Franz. “We clearly feel that there is less pricing pressure as compared to Asian businesses.”

He was referring to pressure from Middle Eastern and Asian carriers that benefit from various forms of state support. Lufthansa has cut capacity in some secondary markets in southeast Asia and the Middle East as a result, he says.

Lufthansa works closely with its joint venture partners Air Canada and United Airlines to coordinate schedules across the North Atlantic, says Franz.

Both Air Canada and United have announced a number of new routes in 2014, including a new nonstop between Houston Intercontinental and Munich on United.