Dr Joern Meissner

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Lufthansa to copy low-cost model in some lines of business

November 18th, 2009 by Joern Meissner

In a recent interview with German business newspaper Handelsblatt, Lufthansa’s Deputy Chairman Christoph Franz mentioned that the airline will implement several strategies so far employed by flow cost competitors (Lufthansa will Billigflieger kopieren, Handelsblatt, November 17, 2009). On certain short routes, the pitch between seats will be reduced. Kitchen and wardrobes will be completely removed to create more space for passengers. Franz mentioned that Lufthansa will have to let go of the old strategy that the profitable long haul business is subsidizing the less profitable short haul routes.

Most importantly, Franz admitted that Lufthansa has underestimated the competition by the low-cost carriers. After some initial panic following the arrival of Ryanair, Easyjet, Air Berlin and others on the scene, most incumbent full-service airlines had settled on the thought that low-cost passengers are a different bread and that their current customers will stay with them not matter what. They now realize that this leniency is dangerous.

For us this is good news, as this might spark some renewed industry interest in choice modeling in network revenue management. Doctoral candidate Arne Strauss and I have been working on improvement in this area for some time now. See for example our articles ‘Pricing Structure Optimization in Mixed Restricted/Unrestricted Fare Environments’ and the upcoming ‘Improved Bid Prices for Choice-Based Network Revenue Management.

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