Lufthansa ex­pands ca­pac­ity with A350

Vancouver Sun - - CITY - DER­RICK PEN­NER de­pen­ner@post­media.com Twit­ter.com/der­rick­pen­ner

Canada’s goals for im­mi­gra­tion are a prize that air­line gi­ant Lufthansa keeps its eye on as much as tourism, ac­cord­ing to the com­pany’s vice-pres­i­dent for the Amer­i­cas.

On top of ro­bust growth in tourism, Canada’s am­bi­tions to wel­come some 310,000 new im­mi­grants to the coun­try this year and up to 340,000 by 2020 makes the coun­try look in­creas­ingly at­trac­tive to the air­line.

“These are our fu­ture cus­tomers,” said Ta­mur Goudarzi Pour, re­fer­ring to new im­mi­grants look­ing to build lives in Canada.

Lufthansa’s fam­ily of air­lines — which in­cludes Swiss Air, Aus­trian Air­lines and Brus­sels Air­lines — serves the mar­kets new im­mi­grants are com­ing from and spe­cial­ize in ser­vices for those pas­sen­gers, Goudarzi Pour said, and he would like to hang on to those cus­tomers as they move around the globe.

In Van­cou­ver, Lufthansa is bring­ing the new high-tech Air­bus A350 air­liner — switch­ing out from the older Air­bus A330 — on its sum­mer Van­cou­ver-to-Mu­nich flight start­ing May 1, which will in­crease by 11 per cent the air­line’s ca­pac­ity to carry pas­sen­gers be­tween the des­ti­na­tions.

“Over­all, for us, Van­cou­ver is a pos­i­tive pic­ture,” added Hans DeHaan, Lufthansa’s di­rec­tor for Canada.

Goudarzi and DeHaan were in Van­cou­ver Mon­day to fi­nal­ize de­tails for in­tro­duc­ing the air­craft to the route, which the air­line hopes will draw new cus­tomers.

The A350 is a di­rect com­peti­tor to Boe­ing ’s 787 Dream­liner, which Air Canada and sev­eral Asian air­lines use. It has 25 per cent bet­ter fuel ef­fi­ciency, high-tech light­ing and bet­ter air cir­cu­la­tion than pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions of air­lin­ers.

“Peo­ple do look at air­craft (when de­cid­ing which air­line) they fly,” said DeHaan, which he hopes will re­sult in more sales for Lufthansa.

Lufthansa flies daily from Van­cou­ver to Frank­furt year round, to Mu­nich daily dur­ing the sum­mer and DeHaan said its sub­sidiary car­rier Edel­weiss flies four times a week dur­ing tourist sea­son in an in­creas­ingly busy Van­cou­ver hub.

Over­all, Van­cou­ver In­ter­na­tional Air­port’s pas­sen­ger count in­creased 8.4 per cent in 2017, com­pared with 2016, al­though growth be­tween the city and transat­lantic des­ti­na­tions was more mod­est at 2.4 per cent.

Air Canada, a part­ner of Lufthansa in the Star Al­liance group of co-op­er­at­ing air­lines, has turned YVR into a hub for its Asia Pa­cific busi­ness, which posted 15 per cent growth in 2017 from 2016.

Lufthansa views ex­po­sure to Asia less im­por­tant than the growth for its transat­lantic busi­ness, Goudarzi Pour said.

He said hold­ing on to cus­tomers mi­grat­ing around the globe is im­por­tant, con­sid­er­ing the spinoff busi­ness that can come from the de­sire to stay in touch with im­por­tant peo­ple from for­mer homes.

“VFR, we call it ‘vis­it­ing friends and rel­a­tives,’” Goudarzi Pour said. “Once the first per­son has im­mi­grated, of course, there is a mul­ti­plier, and all of this con­trib­utes to the econ­omy.”

Ta­mur Goudarzi Pour

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