Elise Becker, Vice President Asia-Pacific and Joint Ventures East for Lufthansa Group Airlines, recently visited Hong Kong to conduct regional meetings and gain insights into the local market. During her trip, she also discussed the significance of Hong Kong, Guangzhou, and the Greater Bay Area in the airline's expansion plans. Here are the highlights of our conversation:
That’s: Have you ever traveled to Guangzhou or Hong Kong? What is your impression of the cities? And how about your trip to Hong Kong this time in October? Do you like the local food here?
Becker: Absolutely, and I loved the experience in both cities. I have very strong memories from the food indeed and also from the vibrant feeling, the very outgoing atmosphere, and the beautiful sceneries like the Botanical gardens, the Haizhu bridge, and of course the beautiful Bays and many more… It is, therefore, very special to me to have the whole APAC leadership team reunited in Hong Kong and experience the city together, including some very special places like the Hong Kong Jockey Club and the Harbor.
That’s: How about the flight recovery of Lufthansa Group in the Greater China region?
Becker: We are proud to offer more than 40 weekly flights from three Chinese gateways, namely Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong to four Lufthansa Group hubs including Frankfurt, Munich, Zurich, and Vienna in the summer schedule this year. The flight capacity is roughly 40% of the pre-pandemic level. Our guests have a fantastic choice. Chinese passengers can travel with us to not only Germany, Switzerland, Austria but of course also to more than 300 destinations worldwide with the strong network of the Lufthansa Group, the number one in Europe. Our current seat load factors of all China flights fully meet our expectation. With the increase of more flights, especially to Chinese mainland, we will be able to serve more passengers onboard. Since September 18, 2023, the ADS group traveling is re-opened. We will be glad to see more Chinese travelers visiting Europe in groups and flying with us.
That’s: Any plans to increase more flights or launch new routes, especially in Guangzhou or the Greater Bay Area?
Becker: In the upcoming winter schedule 2023, we will increase one more flight from Zurich to Hong Kong. By then, Lufthansa Group will operate 14 weekly flights to Hong Kong, namely daily flights between Hong Kong and Frankfurt, daily flights between Hong Kong and Zurich, which offers very convenient connections for passengers from Guangzhou and the Greater Bay Area. And I am quite confident that by the summer schedule of 2024, we will be able to resume more flights to Hong Kong, almost 90% of the pre-pandemic level. South China area is such an important region with great potential. We will further invest here and bring more flights, products.
That’s: Does Lufthansa Group have any plans to enhance the onboard experience? Or any special service to launch on China routes?
Becker: We are heavily investing in the modernization of our fleet. Every 10 days we expect a new aircraft for the group, including state-of-the-art long-haul aircraft from Boeing and Airbus. But that’s not all, we are also investing in the travel journey, especially in our onboard product. Lufthansa as well as SWISS presented their new cabin product early this year, namely new seats in all classes, wonderful new first-class suites, and a suite even in business class. We will install more than 30,000 seats in the near future and are investing a record sum of EUR2.5 billion. Of course, we would love to bring our product to China as quickly as possible.
That’s: Any special destinations in Germany or Europe, you would like to recommend?
Becker: There are so many beautiful sceneries in Europe like there is in your region, which makes the need for connection even more important. Depending on the season, you can go for skiing, of course, in beautiful landscapes in Switzerland and Austria, discover very diverse food specialties in all our home markets like fondue, chocolates, go for Oktoberfest and visit one of the beer tents in Germany, Carnival in Cologne, go along the German wine route, and so much more!