Cathay Dragon

Lufthansa increases flights despite attack on airport costs

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 September, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 September, 1999, 12:00am

Lufthansa German Airlines plans to increase its scheduled weekly flights between Frankfurt and Hong Kong from seven to 10.

The carrier's move comes despite criticism from airlines that high landing fees and terminal charges at Chek Lap Kok airport make it an uneconomic destination.

Juergen Thomsen, Lufthansa's general manager for the southern China region, said: 'We were seeing good load factors on our Hong Kong route, so we decided to add more flights.' The three additional flights, departing Hong Kong on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday evenings, complement Lufthansa's daily morning departures to Frankfurt.

The carrier said average load factors were holding at more than 80 per cent in all three classes.

Advance bookings for the evening flights 'have been good', Mr Thomsen said.

'In the past, demand from Hong Kong to Europe has been weak,' he said. 'But demand from Europe to Hong Kong is strong.' Asian currencies have been weak against the deutschemark, making Asia attractive for European travellers, Mr Thomsen said.

'Many of our passengers to Hong Kong will go on to other Asian destinations,' he said.

Still, while Lufthansa's Asia-wide traffic increased 15 per cent in the first half of this year, Hong Kong-route revenues were down compared year on year during the period, Mr Thomsen said.

'But this situation has changed now and we expect that the full-year figure will be positive,' he said.

Lufthansa flies to 16 destinations in Asia. However, the company plans to phase out many of its intra-Asia routes, transferring them to local airline partners.

'Our passengers are demanding more direct flights from Europe,' Mr Thomsen said.