Lufthansa is keeping its options open over a possible alliance with a Gulf carrier.
Lufthansa chief executive Christoph Franz is reported as saying this morning: “We have investigated this question several times. We have done our own homework and we developed business plans, potential forms of joint ventures, etcetera, with the different Gulf carriers.
“So far we’ve come to the conclusion that it is not beneficial for us. But in our industry, never say never. So if things and the environment are changing, maybe we come to new solutions.”
He said that for the time being Lufthansa had concluded that “serving the markets on our own” was the best way forward, Reuters reported.
Qatar Airways joins the Oneworld group next month as the first major airline from the region to join an alliance, while Etihad Airways is expanding its global reach through minority stakes in carriers including Air Berlin.
Lufthansa has two joint ventures, one covering the North America with United Airlines and Air Canada and another with All Nippon Airways. It is in talks to enhance its collaboration with Air China.
Asked whether Lufthansa and Emirates have been in talks on a possible alliance, Lufthansa vice president for alliances Nils Ecke declined to comment but noted that both sides had not found a convincing business case.
“There is an interest on both sides,” Ecke said.
Franz, who is stepping down next May to join drugmaker Roche said he believed Lufthansa would continue its efforts to cut costs even after its SCORE restructuring programme officially ends in December 2014.
“It’s very clear that given the challenges from the outside world, working on the bottom line will continue, whether this is in the form of another programme or continuous improvement efforts, that is something we’ll have to work on,” he said.
Franz said he was seeing the “first signals” that expanding Lufthansa budget arm Germanwings, a key plank of SCORE, would be a success although the new structure was implemented only in July.
SCORE’s goal is to boost Lufthansa group’s operating profit by €1.5 billion by 2015 compared with 2011, partly by cutting 3,500 jobs, bundling purchasing and outsourcing administrative jobs.
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