Aviation: Lufthansa Group positions itself to claim bigger pie of Africa’s skies
Airlines operating under the Lufthansa Group have increased their marketing collaboration in a bid to claim a bigger share of Africa’s air traffic, which is expected to increase by eight per cent this year.
Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Edelweiss, Eurowings, Lufthansa and SWISS will now fully integrate their sales activities in Africa, the group has announced.
This comes in the wake of ongoing efforts by African states to liberalize the aviation industry, which include the recent launch of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) initiative by the African Union (AU).
The Lufthansa Group airlines had already successfully aligned their sales structures for corporate customers and travel agencies in many markets worldwide.
“Now the integration will be continued in Africa as another important milestone towards having “one face to the customer” and offering harmonized products and services across the globe,” the Group said in a statement.
The group has established a new regional sales office for Sub-Saharan Africa in Brussels.
Brussels Airlines has a strong presence and expertise in Africa, with a dense network of 23 destinations, especially in West and Central Africa.
According to Lufthansa, the office will serve as a key support unit for the group’s integration and leverage synergies and efficiencies within the Lufthansa Group.
It will be located at the Brussels Airlines headquarters, starting November 1, 2018.
“With our long-standing experience in the African market and our very engaged employees, we perfectly complement the Lufthansa Group Sales presence in Africa and especially in the Sub-Saharan part of the continent. Our joint customers will now benefit from an increased flexibility thanks to a global offer, covering the entire Lufthansa Group Africa network”, Brussels Airlines CEO Christina Foerster said.
With the joint commercial set-up, the existing local Sales teams in Africa will take over responsibilities for all airline brands of the Group.
“Customers will benefit from a single point of contact and a continued local presence. This enables us to be close to our markets and customers, to serve their specific needs and to develop harmonized offerings in the future” says Dr. Stefan Kreuzpaintner, Vice President Sales EMEA of the Lufthansa Group. “Our Sales colleagues can now offer all our brands, with joint products and packages.”
Lufthansa Group says it remains focused on Africa, which is a strategic growth area for the Group as all carriers operate to and from the continent.
With the full acquisition of Brussels Airlines in January 2017, the Lufthansa Group extended its route network in Africa from 21 to 44 destinations.
Brussels Airlines fits perfectly into the existing Group network due to its strong focus on Africa.
Today, the Lufthansa Group is the second biggest European airline group in Africa offering a total of 311 weekly departures between Europe and Africa.
The group plans to increase its offering in Africa starting with the upcoming 2018-19 winter schedule.
Austrian Airlines will open new Vienna-Cape Town (South Africa) route, offering two flights per week while Lufthansa will change its Frankfurt – Addis Ababa connection to a non-stop service, with a reduced flight time by more than two hours.
Lufthansa Group airlines serve 343 destinations in 103 countries, offering 15,415 weekly frequencies
The current fleet is comprised of 728 aircraft (as of December 2017) with the Group promosing to continue to take delivery of new aircraft until 2025.
In 2017, the Lufthansa Group employed around 130,000 personnel, welcomed 130 million passengers aboard its flights and generated sales of around EUR 35.6 billion.
Meanwhile, Africa is mulling over opening its skies, a move aimed at increasing connectivity within the continent.
In January, 23 African countries launched the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) initiative by the AU, largely based on the agreements of the Yamoussoukro decision of 1999, ending almost a decade of waiting.
In 2017, overall international passenger traffic rose 7.9 per cent compared to 2016. Capacity rose 6.4 per cent while load factor climbed 1.1 percentage points to 80.6 per cent,The International Air Transport Association (IATA) data shows. African airlines saw 2017 traffic rise 7.5 per cent compared to 2016.
IATA has projected a steady year-on-year growth in air travel with 7.8 billion passengers expected to fly in 2036 globally, nearly doubling from the 4 billion travelers in 2017.
The numbers will mainly be boosted by fast growing markets most of which are in Africa.
They include Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Malawi, Chad, Gambia, Mozambique, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Zambia, Sierra Leone, Benin, Mali and Togo.