India’s Civil Aviation Ministry is seeking clarification about the ownership structure of SWISS and Austrian Airlines, both owned by Germany’s Lufthansa Group, and their permitted services to India under existing bilateral air services agreements (Business Standard, 17-Nov-2011). Indian officials have raised concerns the two airlines are violating substantial ownership and effective control clauses. India has previously threatened to take away SWISS and Austrian’s landing rights as the Government believes neither is owned by parties domiciled in their respective countries.
India to investigate SWISS and Austrian ownership concerns
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Lufthansa and Etihad bedfellows - at last - but unions may make marriage a distant prospect
There can be no understating the symbolic change in mindset of Lufthansa agreeing to partner with Etihad. Lufthansa has spent the better part of a decade rallying against Gulf airlines to the press, lobbying in Europe's power corridors and seeking a range of aeropolitical measures to wind back new competitors. Etihad has been the prime target for its investment and ongoing top-ups in a range of European airlines including Lufthansa's home competitor, the failing airberlin. Despite that, it is not well known that the two have come close to a liaison before, suggesting that each sees an intrinsic logic in a relationship.
The partnership has potential to be more significant than Emirates-Qantas, Qatar-IAG or Etihad-AF-KLM. But for now it is limited in scope and caution should be exercised in extrapolating too far at this stage.
Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr is seeking new growth platforms that sidestep the flagship business' uncompromising unions who would seemingly prefer a status quo that exists only in memory. Their support will be necessary if the partnership is to work and grow. Then Lufthansa, which has rallied the Star Alliance and JV partners against Gulf airlines, will need to explain its change of heart. For now Lufthansa will not partner on Etihad's beyond-Abu Dhabi network, a move that would embrace the fundamental business plan of Etihad and peers. That upside remains a matter for speculation.
Lufthansa Group-Singapore Airlines JV Part 3: JV to support expanded Singapore-Europe capacity
The new Lufthansa Group and Singapore Airlines (SIA) Group joint venture open up opportunities for additional capacity from Singapore to Germany and Switzerland. Lufthansa is confident the improved connectivity beyond Singapore which comes with the JV will help support higher traffic and capacity levels while SIA will benefit from improved connectivity beyond its three German and Swiss gateways.
The two airline groups recently already added over 1,100 weekly one-way seats from Singapore to Germany and Switzerland, representing expansion of 8%, ahead of the formal start of the JV. The expansion included the launch of flights by SIA to Dusseldorf, a route that likely would not have been viable without the JV, and the up-gauging of flights to Singapore by Swiss from A340s to 777-300ERs.
Both airline groups are now considering further capacity increases as well as new routes. Lufthansa is looking at using its new A350 fleet to resume Singapore-Munich, which would supplement its daily Singapore-Frankfurt A380 service and give the group 21 weekly frequencies and nearly 8,000 weekly one-way seats under the JV compared to 31 frequencies and nearly 10,000 weekly seats for SIA.