In a blow to its main Frankfurt hub Lufthansa says it will move more services to Munich.
In a statement the carrier says that “Lufthansa is increasingly able to move fleets and traffic wherever the conditions are best for quality, growth and cost-effectiveness.”
But what does all this mean for customers? It means that Lufthansa customers will increasingly find better connections at Munich.
Lufthansa will develop Munich into a hub with a focus on Asia.
In summer 2019 Lufthansa says its existing Asian routes will be boosted. There will be a new daily flight to Bangkok while Osaka will be served from Munich (instead of Frankfurt).
Equally worrying for Frankfurt was Lufthansa’s decision (in 2017) to transfer some A380 superjumbos to Munich.
Originally it was intended that Lufthansa’s entire A380 fleet would be based at Frankfurt.
However this year saw five A380s transferred to Munich which, says Lufthansa, “was a resounding success. Therefore Lufthansa is considering transferring more A380s to Munich in 2020.”
Three short-haul A320s are also being transferred away from Frankfurt to Munich. These will be rostered to increase Lufthansa’s feeder services to Munich (from other points within Europe and Germany itself).
Why the changes? Lufthansa is concerned about the congestion at Frankfurt and its strict curfew (even stricter than London Heathrow’s) which impacts on its late evening operations.
It’s an open secret that Lufthansa was displeased with Fraport AG (the operator of Frankfurt) when it decided to welcome low-cost airlines (LCCs) with the arrival of Ryanair.
Until very recently Lufthansa and the other major carriers faced no competition from LCCs (low-cost airlines) at Frankfurt. But the arrival of LCCs threatens to depress yield (revenue).
Why have LCCs been so late to serve Frankfurt? Either they found it difficult to gain slots or else they baulked at paying Frankfurt’s fees (some of the highest in Europe).
So why the policy change? Passenger volumes weren’t growing as they were at rival hubs and all major airports need to please their retail outlets (who pay hefty fees to the airport authority).
Now Frankfurt is building another terminal dedicated to LCC operations (note this Aviation Week link is behind a paywall).
This new terminal will open in 2020. Quoted in Aviation Week, Fraport AG’s CEO Stefan Schulte said “The opening date is three years earlier than originally planned. The structure will be built on the south side of the airfield, opposite the main facility.”
Lufthansa must regret its decision to drop its London City-Munich services some time ago. British Airways will be taking over the route in February 2019.