ATN: This year you announced that you are proceeding with a reduction of personnel. Do you expect to make some other adjustments over this year if the crisis continues over you?
CF: This is a long-term effort that we are undertaking within our restructuring program SCORE until the end of 2014. Our goal is not only to stay Europe’s number one Airline but also to improve our position in the global competition in the long term. Only if we restructure certain areas now will we be able to safeguard jobs and create new ones in the future. A short term adjustment that we have implemented in order to react to decreasing demand is to reduce capacity growth. The Lufthansa Group owns most of its aircraft which allows us to adjust capacity growth very quickly into either direction without additional cash out.
ATN: You are offering the new business class seat, how many more passengers do you expect of the new product?
CF: We are indeed currently investing more money into our customers than we have ever done before in the history of Lufthansa Group. Never before has Lufthansa had more Lounges or more First Class seats. Every seat in all of the Lufthansa aircraft has been or will be renewed. On long-haul routes Lufthansa has a new First Class, a new Business Class and new Economy Class seats. All in all we are investing three billion euros into our cabin interior. On top of that we are rejuvenating our fleet: the Lufthansa Group currently has 168 new aircraft on order, valued at 17 billion euros. Demand for mobility will not stop to grow. And even though passenger numbers of the Lufthansa Group were at a record breaking 100 million in 2011 we hope to get a great share of this growth.
ATN: You have also the first launch customer for the 747-8 Intercontinental. How important is to be the launch customer?
CF: Lufthansa has a history of cooperating with aircraft manufacturers. On the one hand we can contribute valuable information to the manufacturer about the needs when operating the aircraft and putting it into service – especially since Lufthansa Technik is the largest provider of maintenance, repair and overhaul services for all kinds of different airlines worldwide. On the other hand we have the chance to point out what we need in an aircraft very early in the process. And this is something our customers will benefit from when the aircraft is then taken into service.
ATN: You will also be the first to have the two aircraft A380, 747-8. Do you see that they really complement each other?
CF: Yes, absolutely. There is about a 160 seat difference in size the way we have chosen to configure the aircraft. And this makes the A380 perfect for some routes and the 747-8 for others.
ATN: You have made quite a few mergers in Europe. Is this a strategy you want to continue? Do you consider the potential of other companies?
CF: We do not see the need to deviate from this strategy because what will remain most important is to look at each case individually and then evaluate what makes sense. Currently there is no need to change the Group’s setup, however.
ATN: Your company has all these different branches: Lufthansa Technik, Lufthansa Consulting, how does this help Lufthansa to be a strong player?
CF: It helps in that to some extent there are valuable synergies that different business segments and the Group as a whole benefit from. And on top of that the different business segments have a stabilizing effect on our overall operating result. When we see a declining demand in the passenger business for example, it often is the case that the MRO business is still performing very well and vice versa, simply because the economic cycle of the MRO business differs from that of an airline.
ATN: What are the 3 mains concerns your airline will face within the next 24 months?
CF: With our industry being volatile and high oil prices, additional burdens such as the German and Austrian aviation taxes, the European Emission Trading Scheme and the night flight ban in Frankfurt pose great challenges to our business. We are putting a great effort into facing those challenges, but I hope that politics will realize that we need a level playing field in order to stay competitive.