Daily to Dusseldorf.
Lufthansa’s air traffic between Glasgow and the German city in the heart of the prosperous Rhine-Ruhr region, generates around £19 million and clocks up 71,000 trips annually. Now that the daily schedule is in place, the company has seen a 5% increase in business across its flights from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. Previously operated as a seasonal route from Edinburgh, the Dusseldorf journey has been daily out of Glasgow since June. ‘This will now be available all year round,’ said Christian Schindler, Lufthansa’s General Manager UK & Ireland on a brief visit to Glasgow this week.
Germans come by the plane load for: ‘golf, the Highlands and the whisky trails’ explained Christian. And with the 90 seater CRJ 900 aircraft being 80% full, the potential to grow that business is being grasped by Lufthansa.
The company already operates three flights a week to Frankfurt from Aberdeen. Edinburgh has a daily Lufthansa flights which are busy, despite the loss of the Dusseldorf route.
According to Francois Bourienne, commercial director at Glasgow Airport, Germany represents the largest international market for Glasgow. He said: ‘Since its launch in April, Lufthansa Regional’s direct service to Dusseldorf has proved extremely popular with business and leisure passengers alike. The new service provides the perfect opportunity to strengthen links between Glasgow and Düsseldorf, both of which are economic powerhouses in their own right. Scottish passengers are also able to take advantage of the excellent onward connectivity offered by Dusseldorf Airport and use it as a hub to reach destinations such as Munich, Zurich and Vienna.’
And the connectivity is the key to the Scottish Lufthansa routes. Said Christian: ‘Aberdeen passengers tend to go long haul to Africa, the United States and Asia. Glasgow and Edinburgh traffic tends to be more continental based.’
With Frankfurt and Zurich airports each having high speed rail stations within their complexes, and Munich having first rate city rail links, Lufthansa can provide a smooth onward journey to any passenger coming out of Scotland. A through ticket – including the rail journey – can be part of a package. ‘It is important to have the rail links,’ says Christian diplomatically. ‘Important both economically and ecologically. For a journey of 250 miles or less, rail is best.’
He is proud of the fact that Lufthansa was the first airline to be listed on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. Until recently, it was the only airline listed. Christian is also happy to be working for the airline because it actively encourages all employees to come up with innovative ideas to save time and money and to enhance the service offered.
‘Employees win prizes – even £1 million – with new ideas,’ he said. Right now a ‘shark skin’ idea using the knowledge of how sharks glide through water, is being considered to strip paint and dirt off the outside of the aircraft. Research indicates the aircraft might fly faster and use less fuel if water is used instead of acid cleaning agents. Another money saving project already in use is an ‘electric tug’ or ‘tow tractor’ which allows the pilot to move the aircraft on the ground instead of it using its engines and a lot of fuel.
Said Christian: ‘I’m very proud that we won the first prize in the Technology Awards for the Airline Business Magazine earlier this month. This fits our corporate ethos of our social responsibility. We work hard to reduce noise, emissions and fuel consumption and to reduce our impact on the environment.’
As the biggest airline company group in Europe and the fourth largest in the world, Lufthansa is giving Glasgow a chance to soar with them.
Gemma Mackenzie and Martin Graham
Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson MSP visited Glasgow Central Station to launch a campaign for the High Speed Rail Link to be extended from London all the way to Glasgow.
He was joined by Glasgow SNP candidates Osama Saeed, John Mason MP, Malcolm Fleming and Patrick Grady.
Last month, the Government announced plans for the rail link which would extend from London to Birmingham. If the link was extended as far as Glasgow it would reduce the journey time from 4.5 hours to 3.5 hours.
The minister explained that there was a clear need to move people from air travel to train travel.
He said: ‘We currently have seven million journeys a year from Scotland to London, only one million of these are by train. There are clear advantages in terms of the boost for jobs and the economy.’
The first part of the plan for 120 miles of new rail line between London and the West Midlands would cost between £15.8bn and £17.4bn. Work is due to commence on the project in 2017.