By Gemma Greenwood
For Lufthansa's general manager passenger sales UAE and director Gulf & Pakistan, Peter Pollak, the secret to the airline’s success is simple — it’s the combination of product, brand and people.
For Lufthansa's general manager passenger sales UAE and director Gulf & Pakistan, Peter Pollak, the secret to the airline's success is simple - it's the combination of product, brand and people.
Lufthansa released strong financial results for ‘07. What's the outlook for ‘08?
2007 was a very good year for Lufthansa. We made a profit of nearly 1.7 billion Euros (US $2.46 billion). We also had an excellent start to 2008 and so we are quite confident that it will be a good year. What we want to achieve is at least the 2007 result.
Is this possible given the market conditions at the moment?
We do have turbulences [in the market] at the moment, but Lufthansa is very professional. It's well branded all over the world. This makes us confident. This is the success story.
We have professional people working for us. All this makes us quite confident of achieving our ambitious goals. Our success is based on our product, our brand and our staff plus our global network provides added value.
How important is the Middle East market to Lufthansa?
The Middle East and the GCC is a growing and booming market. Lufthansa has been here since the 1970s so it is well established in the market. We are well known with our brand here and it's quite obvious to us that we will benefit from the growth in this market - the GCC.
That's why in the past three years we have expanded our network in the Middle East. It has been important to do that because of the growing corporate business here - this is very attractive to us. Lufthansa always looks for sales opportunities.
Are you looking to further expand your Middle East network?
There are opportunities to enhance our network. For example, our Doha service [to Frankfurt] is currently three times weekly but we could increase this to daily. Muscat is the same. We could also change one-stop services to non-stop services.
At the moment we also offer our customers a year-round daily service from Dubai to our second hub of Munich. This is operated by an A390 aircraft - the Lufthansa Business Jet - which accommodates 48 business class passengers.
Is this a good time to be operating a business-class service given the failure of ventures such as Silverjet and Eos Airlines?
What most people don't realise is that we have been running the Lufthansa Business Jet for eight years. We started offering this product out of Germany to the US - the daily Frankfurt to New York bank shuttle - and we still do. We also started flying to Pune in India a couple of months ago. We are well experienced with this product and we know what the customers' needs are.
It's also the Lufthansa brand. We are well established in the premium segment; we offer a global network and we add value. We always have to prove and show what we can contribute to the customer.
We offer 208 destinations in 81 countries and operate more than 2000 flights daily - this is added value.
How important is the region's travel trade to Lufthansa?
The travel trade is still our most important sales channel accounting for nearly 90% of total sales in this region. Lufthansa is always trying to fulfil the needs of the customer and we are prominent in each sales channel, but it's the customer who decides how to book.
Our web sales are showing the highest growth but we are seeing growth in all other channels too. We continue to work closely with travel agents and have good staff who can coach them and answer their questions.
We also have our travel agent platform, ‘xperts', for easy communication with agents.