Why Lufthansa will be good for business

For the past 20 years Liverpool has been well served with holiday routes via easyJet and Ryanair but Lufthansa’s Frankfurt service opens up a new global corporate gateway. Tony McDonough reports

Lufthansa
Lufthansa will fly to Frankfurt from Liverpool John Lennon Airport

 

Lufthansa’s new route from Liverpool to Frankfurt which connects the city to 150 global destinations could turbo-charge corporate investment into Merseyside.

Starting on May 4, 2022, the German flag carrier will offer two return flights between Liverpool John Lennon Airport (LJLA) and Frankfurt every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

Lufthansa is a member of the Star Alliance, the world’s biggest airline alliance. Codesharing agreements between member airlines mean passengers get access to a much wider route network.

LJLA talks with airlines constantly and that ongoing process has proved hugely successful in persuading carriers such as easyJet, Ryanair and Wizz Air to come to Liverpool and keep on expanding their routes.

However, while those airlines offer great point to point travel, particularly for tourists, a big area of frustration for the airport, and the wider city region’s business sector, is the lack of access to a hub airport for onward global destinations.

This has been a particular disincentive to business people from other parts of the world. Booking a connection over the web to an airport without a hub link just makes the whole process that much more difficult. No one wants the hassle of getting off a plane in Paris or Amsterdam and then having to check in again for an easyJet or Ryanair flight.

Business people want to book once and check in once. If you want to look at one of the reasons why Manchester’s economy has raced away in recent years then just look at the direct flights and connections available from its airport.

When investors look at a particular location they consider a number of factors – property costs and availability, a skilled workforce and, critically, access to good transport connections.

Back in the early 2000s, LJLA pushed hard for a connecting service to London Heathrow, something it had offered back in the 1980s. But the scarcity of landing slots available for regional flights at the world’s most in-demand aviation hub, made it too big an ask.

Liverpool has not given up on a Heathrow route. This is why it has been an enthusiastic backer of a third runway with the possibility of landing slots ringfenced for regional services. However, that project remains in the balance.

LJLA’s last full hub link, which saw Dutch carrier KLM offer up to three daily flights to and from Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport ended in March 2012. It had been launched with a fanfare in 2009 but fell victim to the fallout from the financial crisis that gripped the world a decade ago.

Both the airport and Liverpool city region business leaders will hope that was just bad luck. Passenger data showed that 48% of people who flew to Schiphol caught planes to other destinations, suggesting there was demand for the hub link.

Lufthansa
Lufthansa has a big focus on business travellers which offers a boost for Liverpool city region

 

Despite the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lufthansa said last week there was emerging evidence that demand for business travel was rebounding strongly, particularly on its transatlantic routes where bookings had now reached 80% of 2019 levels.

Lufthansa has returned profits in the third quarter of this year, the first time since before the pandemic. During the three-month period, group sales soared 96% year-on-year to €5.2bn with 19.6m passengers carried.

In its quarterly report, it said: “People’s desire to travel and the easing of pandemic-related travel restrictions led to a strong increase in demand for air travel during the summer months. Business travel also recovered significantly over the course of the quarter.

“Supported by the further opening of important long-haul markets for travellers from Europe, especially the US, new bookings increased significantly. At present, new bookings have reached around 80% of the pre-crisis level.”

Chris Brown, Director of Marketing Liverpool, said: “This new route is fantastic news for international tourists and Liverpool city region’s ambitions to connect to global markets from one of Europe’s major hubs.”

And John Irving, chief executive of LJLA, also said: “To be able to connect Liverpool globally via Frankfurt will bring huge benefits to the business sector across our region both now and into the future and of course will now enable the world to easily connect into Liverpool to visit our brilliant city and the surrounding areas.”

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