Lufthansa expands capacity with A350
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