October was expected to be a crucial month in the ongoing saga of Lufthansa's introduction of a surcharge for all bookings made via Global Distribution Systems.
The airline released figures this week to outline its passenger numbers across the group for last month - the first period in which it has not had any disruption to services since the charge started on the 1 September.
Flights were hit by a two-day strike in early September, leading officials to blame the disruption on a shift away in bookings via GDS in September which were revealed in an internal memo circulated amongst Sabre executives.
During its recent earnings report for the third quarter of 2015, CEO and chairman of the executive board, Carsten Spohr, said the group has faced “some headwind” since the Direct Distribution Charge started in September in markets outside of Germany.
In October, number of passengers carried on Lufthansa was up 5.3% year-on-year, with Swiss up 1%, Austrian down 1.5%, giving an overall figure of up 3.9% across the group.
Broken down further:
- Europe - up 4.1%
- Americas - up 4.7%
- Asia-Pacific - up 5.9%
- MEA - down 4.8%
The overall increase in passenger numbers across the group is broadly in line with other months in 2015 without any disruption to services from a strike.
August was up 3.6%, July up 4.6%, June up 2.6%.
This is good news for the carrier, obviously, given that many were predicting (or, indeed, hoping) a slump would hit the airline as a result of its new strategy to eliminate the GDS from the distribution equation.
Some critics of the Distribution Cost Charge will, however, point to the traffic figures for other carriers over the same period, especially those that were perhaps expected to challenge Lufthansa on competitive routes.
IAG (home to British Airways and Iberia), for example, saw passenger numbers increase by 23.4% year-on-year during October. In August it saw an increase of 12.4% compared to the previous year. July was 12.6%.
EasyJet was up 9.7% y/y in October, up 6.8% in August and up 9.4% in Ryanair.
Ryanair was up 15% in October compared to the previous year, with August showing an increase of 10% and July some 11%.
Air France-KLM bucked the trend and posted only a 1.5% increase across its network in October y/y.
NB:Lufthansa image via Shutterstock.