Star Alliance members Lufthansa and Beijing-based Air China have signed a much-anticipated deal that will see them coordinate flights and schedules between Europe and mainland China.
In a statement released today, the CEO of Lufthansa said, “The Chinese aviation market is one of the most important growth markets in the world. We want to take advantage of this growth together.
The Lufthansa / Air China agreement is subject to regulatory approval. It will begin in the summer of 2017.
Lufthansa specializes in joint venture agreements on routes to Asia. It has already entered into joint venture agreements with the Japanese company ANA and with Singapore Airlines (SIA).
As with its SIA agreement, the new contract with Air China will cover two other members of the Lufthansa group, namely Austrian Airlines and Swiss.
Passengers will benefit from a greater choice of routes and departure points with the four airlines.
It was not mentioned that fares could become cheaper for the average passenger. However, there may be more benefits available for business accounts.
Lufthansa wants to strengthen its position in China to compete with both Skyteam Alliance airlines and Gulf carriers.
Although the latter take a longer route to China (via the Gulf), their fares are attractive and they offer a wide range of European departure points.
In recent months, Lufthansa has had to deal with a series of strikes by both pilots and cabin crew. This affected its results which, for the first half, show a slight decline.
In addition, Lufthansa faces further industrial action from its pilots. The latest round of talks between Lufthansa and the German pilots’ union (Vereinigung Cockpit) ended in failure.