For the first time in 35 years, German airline Lufthansa has introduced a new class of travel. The airline will soon include a Premium Economy offering on selected routes, with its long-haul fleet expected to be completely outfitted with a new Premium Economy cabin by the end of 2015. Axel Simon, Director Southern Africa: Lufthansa German Airlines, gave Business Traveller Africa some information about the new product.
Q: Please confirm when Premium Economy will be available on Lufthansa, on which aircraft, and when it will be available on your Africa routes?
A: Installation of Lufthansa’s Premium Economy class is being carried out on a gradual basis, sub-fleet by sub-fleet, and will be available from November 2014 on the Boeing 747-8. From 22 April 2015, Premium Economy will be fitted in all the aircraft serving Johannesburg. This means that our customers will enjoy the fully retrofitted product.
Q: What will be the main features in Lufthansa’s Premium Economy cabins?
A: The seat offers up to 50% more room than Economy Class. Depending on the aircraft type, they are up to three centimetres wider and each seat has its own wide armrest and a centre console between the seats. The seat pitch equates to 97 centimetres. Each passenger can take on double the amount of free luggage – two items weighing up to 23 kilograms. For an additional €25, passengers can enjoy the Lufthansa Business Lounges before departure. On board, a welcome drink is served and a high-quality amenity set is provided. Meals are served on porcelain tableware. An extensive in-flight entertainment programme is offered on individual touch screen monitors, as well as a wide selection of magazines and newspapers.
Q: What was the thinking behind developing a Lufthansa Premium Economy product?
A: The new product will enable Lufthansa to meet the requirements of many passengers who travel with other airlines in a similar travel class, or who fly Economy due to travel specifications. Following the introduction of its new full-flat Business Class, Lufthansa created a much wider gap between Economy and Business Class. As a result, there is now room for its new Premium Economy Class, which offers more space and comfort as well as many additional product features, but is closer to Economy than Business Class in terms of its average prices.
Q: Premium Economy is now a competitive space – why do you think that is the case, and how does Lufthansa differentiate itself from its competition?
A: The introduction of Premium Economy is an important part of the airline’s service campaign and will complement the many improvements that Lufthansa plans to make in all classes on board and on the ground by 2015. By this time, the entire long-haul fleet will have the new First and Business Class – which will involve the installation of 7,000 new seats across the fleet. Apart from the interior of the cabins, services on board and on the ground are also being enhanced.
Q: What are the features of Lufthansa’s new A380 Business Class?
A: A horizontal sleeping surface measuring 1.98 metres in length. Ergonomically improved cushioning for a higher degree of comfort. More space at shoulder level when lying down thanks to lowerable armrests and a special hollow in the central console. Generous surfaces and additional storage compartments. In-flight entertainment system with larger monitors.
Q: What do you believe are the current talking points in global aviation premium travel?
A: Lufthansa’s new First Class is enjoying strong recognition worldwide. We’ve had excellent feedback from top customers. Lufthansa’s First Class and its range of services were awarded five stars in the Skytrax star ranking, while the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences (AAHS) presented its International 5 Star Diamond Award to Europe’s leading airline.
Q: What do you think the business traveller values most in premium travel cabins?
A: Space, individuality, exclusiveness, quality of service and hospitality.
Q: What is the Lufthansa view on Africa and where does the continent sit, in terms of Lufthansa’s overall strategy?
A: Lufthansa has identified Africa as a growth market, especially those countries called oil and energy markets. The airline will continue to endeavour to provide non-stop flights with regular frequencies.
Q: What does the future of international passenger aviation look like to you?
A: The aviation industry is a growing industry that is exciting yet challenging. Issues that continue to keep us on our toes are currency fluctuations, fuel prices, the need for a Single European Sky to provide seamless connection from the airline’s European hubs, competition that continues to be governed by bi-lateral agreements and state aid provisions And to simplify the entire travel experience before departure and after arrival, as well as offering an all-round product pallet on our website.