WSJ: “Europe’s Top Airlines to Spend Billions in Battle to Win Back Passengers”

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WSJ yesterday had a piece about the European airlines of Lufthansa and Air France-KLM trying to upgrade their cabins and in-flight service to better match those of the Middle Eastern rivals to whom they have lost a lot of traffic to Asia over the past few years.

WSJ Europe’s Top Airlines to Spend Billions in Battle to Win Back Passengers

After years of cost cutting (and cutting corners when it comes to the service provided), the airlines are trying to offer upgraded cabins and amenities especially to those that travel in premium cabins.

You can access the entire WSJ piece here of which below is an excerpt:

The intensifying fight is over profitable routes between Europe and Asia—a business that Air France-KLM and Lufthansa once dominated. Emirates Airline, the world’s largest by international traffic, has more than doubled the seats on offer to cities such as Singapore and Bangkok in the past decade, outpacing its European competitors, which have retrenched in the same markets, according to data from OAG Aviation Worldwide Ltd.

Lufthansa and Air France also are upgrading other services. Air France is revamping its culinary offerings, giving out complimentary hot meals on flights over two hours. After years of cost-cutting, Mr. de Juniac said the future will focus on improving flying experiences rather than lowering expenses.

Lufthansa’s Mr. Bishof said service improvements are also a significant part of its overhaul. Lufthansa is introducing a personalized meal service in business class. Passengers will be served restaurant style at a time of their choosing, as the airline dispenses with trolley service and prescribed meal times.

Conclusion

I took an Air France flight from Bangkok to Paris earlier this week in business class and don’t see any reason why someone would choose it over Emirates, Etihad or Qatar if connection is involved, although the crew was pleasant. The entertainment system sucked, no in-flight wifi and no on-demand dining.

Once the passenger has experienced the modern planes and services of these ME3 (as the Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways are often referred), it is very difficult for the European legacy carriers to win them back with their lackluster offerings.

Whether you like the ME3 or the employment conditions on the Gulf, it forces the European airlines to up their services to at least partially match them in order to stay competitive.

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