NEW YORK: A late entrant into the Premium Economy game Lufthansa reports strong initial booking results for this dedicated new class of service, and says its success will determine whether or not a similar product is introduced on other Lufthansa Group carriers Austrian and Swiss, and partially owned Brussels Airlines.
“Initial results – the booking curve – [are] about what we expected, so we’re seeing more demand than we had put on our [more conservative] business plan. It’s always a ramp up, so demand is there,” Lufthansa VP of the Americas Jurgen Siebenrock told RGN during the group’s annual media breakfast in New York.
Lufthansa has observed that customers are upselling from economy class to Premium Economy, not downselling from the carrier’s newly enhanced business class with full-flat seats. “We don’t see any downsell, which is always a concern that people start downselling from business to Premium Economy – people love it,” said Siebenrock. That includes business travelers, who see enough of a difference between the two products to rationalize its introduction. “It’s not only very well received on the leisure side, but also on the business side.”
Will a Premium Economy cabin work its way onto sisters Swiss and Austrian, or Brussels, of which the Lufthansa Group owns a strategic stake? Siebenrock could not say for certain, but noted, “I think if it is successful, it will definitely roll out to the other [airlines]. We’ll look at the results, the investment, the returns, and look to expand it.”
During the briefing Swiss head of sales and marketing, Americas, Patrick Heymann provided some insight into the carrier’s interiors plans for its upcoming Boeing 777-300ER. While most airlines are removing first class cabins, Swiss will be doubling down on its upcoming 777, opting for a “suite” style product with a closing door. “It’s not final yet, but I feel we’re going towards that direction. There will be some facilities to get a bit more privacy.”
As for Premium Economy, “It’s not excluded; it might happen,” said Heymann.