Lufthansa new CEO oversees network, airline brands

Deutsche Lufthansa AG Chief Executive Officer Carsten Spohr, who took over yesterday, will assume direct responsibility for development of the group’s route network and the strategy of individual airline brands. The move will formalize Spohr’s control over key decisions concerning Austrian Airlines and Swiss, as well Lufthansa’s own main brand and the low-cost Germanwings unit, together with issues concerning alliances and joint ventures, said Andreas Bartels, a spokesman for the Cologne-based company. Spohr separately released a video message giving his “personal assurance” that Lufthansa “will offer the highest quality of service whenever and wherever you fly.” The CEO will continue a cost-cutting program while seeking to lift service levels with new seats and enhanced catering after predecessor Christoph Franz set a goal of becoming the first European carrier with a five-star rating from Skytrax. In addition to improving profit and product, Spohr has said he’ll also seek to respond to the growth of carriers such as Turkish Airlines and Emirate, whose bases are stripping traffic away from traditional European hubs. The CEOs of Swiss, Austrian and Brussels Airlines will remain responsible for the planning and management of their networks, and will be part of a new group executive committee, together other unit chiefs and group directors. Harry Hohmeister, CEO of Swiss and an executive board member, retains general responsibility for the group’s airlines and takes over information technology oversight from next January. Nils Ecke will continue to oversee Lufthansa’s membership in Star Alliance as well as joint ventures, while strategy chief Sadiq Gillani remains responsible for the development of the group airlines, Bartels said. For network development, a central team of about five people reporting to Spohr will be created to avoid overlaps in route planning and ensure changes benefit the wider group.