Uwe Wriedt, Lufthansa’s GM passenger sales UAE, & director, Gulf and Pakistan, talks World Cup, new Middle East routes and partnering with agents
ATN: What was the impact of the World Cup in terms of raising the profile of both Lufthansa and Germany?
Our flights to Germany [during the World Cup] were choc-a-bloc packed and we achieved a great deal through our FIFA marketing; footballs painted on the nose of our planes, table football games in German airports and green soccer mats in front of the check-in counters.
It’s very hard to quantify the overall impact, but what I do think is that the World Cup changed the world’s perception of Germany.
It was considered one of the best-organised FIFA World Cup events ever; organisation is one of Germany’s key strengths, but it went beyond that.
Even people in the Black Forest learnt English in preparation for the event, and police officers painted German flags on their cheeks.
All the international community – from Australia, Japan and the US – said they were amazed that everyone was speaking English.
ATN: Did Emirates Airlines’ aggressive World Cup marketing efforts in this region overshadow Lufthansa’s campaign?
Emirates is the main carrier [out of Dubai] and therefore dominates [in the UAE] by default, so it had to have the highest market share [out of Dubai].
We had 13% more passengers out of Dubai in business and first class in June, and 9% in economy, compared to June 2005.
For the [entire] Middle East [network] we were up 21% for business and first and 11% up for economy.
This was mainly driven by Kuwait, and also because we introduced flights from Bahrain (May) and Doha (January).
We have all of the Gulf covered now; there’s not one white spot.
ATN: How is the Bahrain-Frankfurt route working out?
Load factors are at around 60%, which is very much what we expected when you consider Lufthansa is the one of the last [main European] carriers to commit to Bahrain.
KLM and British Airways have been flying there for a long time.
It mainly attracts business travellers at the moment, but we are currently planning our marketing strategy for next year.
Two things will influence our plans; from October 15 we will have our additional Munich flight, so we will be double daily [from Dubai] every day, flying to both Munich and Frankfurt.
We are also looking to promote Germany as a good leisure and MICE destination.
ATN: How will you achieve this?
We have been looking for opportunities to partner with tour operators and travel agents in the region so we can promote Germany.
We will work closely with the German National Tourist Office (GNTO) on this.
We will also promote triangle trips [in conjunction with Lufthansa partner carrier, SWISS], which take in Switzerland and Germany.
There are many opportunities we can develop with travel agents.
I am very much into promoting the North, West and East of Germany, which have a lot to offer, because the South is already very well known.
In Germany there is so much to do, but it is difficult to get this message across.
What we are lacking is a strong brand identity. I know this is something the GNTO is working on.
ATN: Which agents/operators would you consider working with?
We would love to develop holiday packages to Germany with agents and operators, but we still need to find partners who are willing to focus on Germany.
In other markets such as the UK we have German specialist tour operators, but this insight and knowledge is lacking here.
We need a professional destination-focused tour operator.
Dnata is a logical partner because it’s our GSA and it has the logistics in place.
There is a real potential for growing leisure traffic to Germany.