Lufthansa is the first European airline to get Skytrax’s 5-star status. Carsten Spohr, Chairman of the Executive Board of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, explains why.
Mr. Spohr, what does the “5-Star Airline” rating mean for you?
A great deal. The award is a very welcome recognition of our great efforts to restore Lufthansa to its position as one of the world’s leading premium airlines. Admittedly, in the past few years we have had to close the gap that opened up between us and the other top airlines. We lacked both the ability to invest and the creative will to defend our position at the top. Now, we have caught up again because we have invested hugely in our fleet, renewed all our cabins, introduced digital services, opened new lounges, and improved our services both on board and on the ground. We are now far more clearly positioned as a premium airline; this is something we achieved by using our secondary brand, Eurowings, to create a very clear distinction: Lufthansa focuses on the premium segment while Eurowings stands for cheaper point-to-point flights. This combination of premium services and the quality and professionalism of our staff makes Lufthansa a very deserving 5-Star Airline and one of the best ten carriers in the world.
What role do Lufthansa’s employees play in qualifying for the fifth star?
Without a doubt the most important role, because they are what set us apart. Any airline can buy planes and seats, or rent expensive lounges. But the ability to offer first-rate service along the entire journey chain is something you can only achieve with first-rate staff. I am convinced that one of the main reasons we received the fifth star is because we have the best staff. Our passengers obviously agree, which is why they rated Lufthansa as Europe’s best airline in the global Skytrax Survey 2017. The Skytrax jury, who have awarded us five-star status for our First Class for many years, have rewarded our efforts with the fifth star for the entire airline. It’s an achievement everyone at Lufthansa can be truly proud of, particularly our colleagues in the cabin, the cockpit and on the ground who deliver our premium pledge to our passengers.
Do you have to fulfill specific conditions to become a 5-Star Airline?
Yes, everything is very clearly defined. The auditors travel with the mindset of a customer, and they look very closely at every single detail. It’s not just about the flight itself, but about the whole trip, from booking to arrival at the airport, check-in, the quality of the lounges, and, naturally, the service on board and when you reach your destination. The auditors flew on a wide range of flights in all our classes, on both short and long-haul routes. We were often quite astonished at just how meticulously they examined all the many details.
What did Lufthansa improve to make it into the exclusive “Top Ten Airlines” club?
We focused consistently on modernizing the airline, which was a necessary step. For instance, the development of the new Lufthansa app and refurbishing our cabins in First, Business, Premium Economy and Economy. Then we extended our restaurant service from First to Business Class, allowing us to offer our guests a more personal service. As we continue along this successful path, we are firmly focused on the future. In the near future, we will be presenting our new, improved Premium Economy, and our guests can already look forward to the new Lufthansa Business Class, which launches in 2020 in the Boeing 777-9X. We are pressing ahead in our modernization efforts with great determination and continuity, which was a decisive aspect for Skytrax.
We listen particularly carefully to our frequent fliers because they really know us best of all
Did you copy anything from your rivals?
We tend to listen more to what our customers want, and we listen particularly carefully to our frequent fliers because they really know us best of all. We want to offer them a perfect product. Our guests are eager to share their suggestions and experiences so as to help us continue to improve our services, and I am constantly amazed at expertise, experience and creativity they share with us. I believe the fifth star is also an award for our guests.
What do you aim to improve in the future?
Our aim is to offer each and every guest exactly what he or she is looking for. We will achieve this with the help of our staff, who personally attend to the wishes of our customers. The new digital options will also be playing a role here. We know a lot about our customers, and we can use this information to design customized offers and services.
You are not only a qualified pilot, you’re also a very frequent flier. What do you like most about traveling?
Flying is always fascinating! I hope that I speak for the large majority of our customers when I say that even as a frequent flier I thoroughly enjoy every single flight. The peace on board – there’s nothing to disturb you, no mobile phone ringing; instead, you have time to read or concentrate on work. I really enjoy the singular experience above the clouds – and always look forward to Lufthansa’s five-star service.
What does Lufthansa have that other airlines don’t?
A strong brand with an incredible heritage, a large customer base with exceptionally loyal frequent fliers, a great capacity for innovation that we are presently using for digitalization. And, quite simply, the best airline staff in the world …