The official Lufthansa slogan may be, “Say yes to the world,” but its real trademark is “rules for thee, not for me.” After calling €10 fares immoral and arguing they should be illegal, Lufthansa is preparing to offer €9 fares to consumers.
Lufthansa Ready To Sell “Irresponsible” Low Fares To Preserve Slots
In 2019, Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr attacked budget carriers like Ryanair or Wizzair, telling a Swiss newspaper such pricing was “economically, ecologically, and politically irresponsible.” He added, “Flights for less than 10EUR shouldn’t exist.”
But much has changed in 2021 and Spohr has hinted that Lufthansa is now prepared to drop fares to those “irresponsible” levels if necessary.
European Union rules require that airlines operate 80% of their scheduled flights or risk losing their slots. Early on in the pandemic, that led to “ghost flights” but EU regulators introduced a slot waiver program when demand was decimated by the pandemic.
While the waiver remains in force, the European Commission announced in December 2020 it would upgrade the threshold to 40% (from 0%) this spring and back up to 80% by summer.
Should a further waiver not be granted, Lufthansa will run empty flights and offer dramatically reduced fares in order to keep possession of the slots. In a video interview with Eurocontrol (in English), Spohr notes:
“Any airline like us who depends on the hub system will do whatever it takes to safeguard their slots. If we have to fly empty, we’ll probably offer €9 tickets ourselves to keep those flights in the system.”
Hence, the “rules for thee, not for me” charge. Lufthansa did not offer any clarification, but I expect it would say that desperate times call for desperate measures and the thought of running empty flights or €9 tickets demonstrates the absurdity of not extending the slot waiver.
Spohr also noted that Air France, British Airways, and KLM would likely do the same thing before giving up slots.
“Giving up essential slots at a hub is a damage to generations of Lufthansa staff or Air France staff or British Airways staff or KLM staff to come.”
I suspect he is correct.
It’s quite a stretch to go from condemning €10 fares to promising €9 fares in order to maintain slots (that may not be needed for years). But the pandemic has turned conventional wisdom upside down and once again exposed that Lufthansa will say and do what it needs to do in order to protect itself. Care for the environment? Please, that’s just lip service.