|Lufthansa satisfied with Serbia results despite strong competition|
Lufthansa, Europe’s largest airline, says it expects further positive developments on the Serbian market but warns that distortion of competition will negatively impact passengers. Martin Riecken, Lufthansa’s Director of Corporate Communications in Europe, says the German carrier has seen an increase in the number of travellers on its flights from Frankfurt and Munich to Belgrade so far this year, despite strong competition. “In the very competitive Serbian market, Lufthansa was able to increase the number of transported passengers between Germany and Serbia by almost 10% in the first four months of the current year, despite reduced capacities. A trend which we expect to continue in the next years”, Mr Riecken tells EX-YU Aviation News. In the first quarter, Lufthansa handled 56.944 travellers on its flights to and from Belgrade, making it the third busiest carrier in Serbia. It achieved this despite an almost 20% decline in the number of operated flights.
Air Serbia has been competing strongly against Lufthansa on services between its home market and Germany. The airline operates flights from Belgrade to Berlin, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt and Stuttgart, all of which are codeshared by both Air Berlin and Etihad Airways. Furthermore, the Serbian carrier codeshares on over twenty of Air Berlin’s routes, both domestically and internationally, while passengers from both airlines can redeem frequent flyer points on each other’s’ flights. Recently, Air Berlin placed a number of its own codes onto Air Serbia’s flights from Belgrade to destinations in the region and beyond. Despite a resurgent Serbian carrier, Lufthansa is still satisfied with its own performance on the market. “Lufthansa has been present in the Serbian market for 48 years as a part of the biggest foreign airline group. The Serbian market is one of the most important in Southeast Europe for Lufthansa. We see big potential in the market and expect further positive developments”.
Commenting on the tie-up between Air Serbia and Etihad, Mr Ricken says, “There is a world-wide discussion about the activities of three airlines from the Gulf region, with all of them trying to gain access to existing international passenger flows with their government-funded business models”. He adds, “We are in favor of competition in Europe and worldwide, but this has to take place based on fair rules and equal market conditions. A distortion of competition will always turn out to the disadvantage of the passengers, in the long run”. Lufthansa plans to operate double daily flights from both Frankfurt and Munich to the Serbian capital this coming winter season.