Global Traveler: Lufthansa flew the Airbus A380 from Frankfurt to New York (JFK) on March 19, 2007, to much fanfare; what will this aircraft bring to first- and business-class travelers?
Jens Bischof: The A380 marks a bold step in aviation history and in many ways reflects how we at Lufthansa run our business — with a focus on innovation and efficiency. When we introduce the A380 as our flagship aircraft in 2009, travelers will enjoy a truly enhanced flying experience. Soothing lighting, improved moisture quality and reduced noise levels will help combat jetlag, together with much more space to move about, even with the increased passenger capacity. We will also introduce new designs in first and economy classes, in addition to our existing new business class.
Our A380 passengers will also be among the world’s most environmentally friendly air travelers. Lufthansa will achieve fuel-efficiency levels of 80 miles per gallon per passenger, an improvement of nearly 50 percent over our already high-quality fuel standards. Similar efficiencies hold true for the Boeing 747-8, the extended, modernized version of the jumbo jet, for which we are the launch customer.
GT: What else can passengers expect from Lufthansa in the near future?
JB: Lufthansa is known for its leadership role in today’s ground services revolution. We initiated the trend in 2004, setting new standards in first-class service upon opening the world’s only dedicated first-class terminal. Located in Frankfurt, it features personal assistants, chauffeured luxury car service directly to the aircraft and much more. We recently opened a similar first-class lounge in Munich and are investing $135 million in lounge renovation projects for premium customers worldwide, including a new lounge at JFK opening next year.
GT: Lufthansa recently added service between Munich and Denver. What other routes are planned for North America?
JB: We’ve launched Orlando-Frankfurt service and all-business-class flights between Newark and Frankfurt. In 2008, we’ll introduce Seattle- and Calgary-to-Frankfurt routes, new service from Toronto to Düsseldorf, and an extension of our Newark- and Chicago-to-Düsseldorf service from all-business-class to three-class on a widebody aircraft. Globally, we’ve added flights from Frankfurt to Karachi and Lahore in Pakistan, and from Munich to Singapore.
GT: Are you pulling back from the business jet market?
JB: Not at all! Business Jet service will continue to be part of our overall Lufthansa portfolio. Where it makes sense to fly an all-business-class jet together with — or instead of — a three-cabin widebody plane, or vice versa depends on the demand and development of the individual markets. We’re very satisfied with our all-business-class model — we pioneered the concept in 2002.
GT: What brought you to your current position with Lufthansa?
JB: I started my career as a freight forwarder, and later worked in the traffic handling department at Lufthansa Cargo. In 1994, I moved to corporate procurement, where I worked my way up to the vice president position. During that time I also completed management degrees at McGill College in Montreal and at Rendsburg College in Germany. More recently, I oversaw the post-merger integration of Swiss International Airlines into the Lufthansa Group before entering my current position in September 2006 as vice president, The Americas. I now oversee Lufthansa’s sales and marketing, 24 airport stations and nearly 700 employees throughout the region.
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