By Andy Sambidge
Regional vice president says market will be one of the 'most dynamic' for German carrier
Lufthansa says it is "cautiously optimistic" about its Middle East prospects in 2011 as it sees air passenger demand returning to normal levels.
Joachim Steinbach, vice president of Lufthansa in the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Europe, said the Middle East would be among the "most dynamic" markets this year.
"Seeing how demand has returned to more normal levels again, we are cautiously optimistic," he said in an interview with Arabian Supply Chain.
"As in the past years, we expect the markets in the Middle East to be among the most dynamic ones. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, and also Iraq should continue to perform strongly," he said.
He added that Lufthansa's regional performance in 2010 was strong, with a year-over-year increase of approximately 13 percent on flights from the Middle East to Germany.
"Since we have just opened two new routes in 2010, we want to concentrate on securing their long-term success. We also aim to further increase our overall market share on routes between the Middle East and Europe. And we continuously screen the Middle East for new opportunities," he said.
Steinbach added that following investment in the Saudi Arabian markets since 2009, Lufthansa was recording "very favourable business trends on services to Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam".
Other strong performers, he said, was the UAE to Germany route, with a year-over-year increase of almost 10 percent in passenger volumes.
Lufthansa should increase more flights to Qatar because Doha is building a modern airport to be launched this year. Lufthansa can make Doha as the center of the Gulf Operations and connect to South Asia and beyond because Doha is attracting to add more airlines to Qatar. We hope Lufthansa will form an alliance with Qatar Airways so fares to Qatar and Germany will be cheaper right. Qatar is a good market for Lufthansa because many Europeans and Expats live and work in good companies in Qatar.