Airline News in Brief: Insanity at Lufthansa Group; Violence at Air France and Turkish Airlines on a Slippery Slope

slippery-slope

The seeming deafness to passenger demands of senior management at Lufthansa Group continues. At numerous airports outside of their home bases, the cost cutting madness gripping LH group means that local ticketing and rebooking staff will be removed such that if passengers have to rearrange their flights (due to flight cancellations), they will have to call a distant call centre…at their own cost. Take Budapest airport. Lufthansa group airlines (Lufthansa, Eurowings, Swiss, Austrian and Brussels Airlines) fly at least 10 times per day from there. Four of Lufthansa group’s flights leave BEFORE or AFTER the call centre for Hungary opening hours Monday to Friday (they are open 9 to 5) and none of its flights are supported by a Hungary phone number at weekends.

So if Lufthansa Group lets you down (which they frequently do), you’ll need to call Germany to rearrange your flights. Sweet! How much longer will shareholders support the insane customer service approach of Carsten Spohr and his team? On top of his conflict with the pilots and his handling of the Germanwings tragedy, in any other area of public life, he would have probably been fired by now – maybe a position at VW might suit him?

Turkish Airlines have begun the slippery slope towards mediocrity. In their dash for growth, they have begun reducing quality of inflight catering. Gone are the hot meals in economy for flights under 2.5 hours – one of the selling points for customers. They are rapidly running out of space at Ataturk airport – my recent flight was parked at the airport hangars! – flights are routinely delayed by lengthy holding patterns over Istanbul (the same flight wandered in the sky for 35 mins over the airport).

This comes on top of the legendary complaints of their customer relations department and their ground services (featured in earlier posts at this blog).

It is reasonably evident that the managerial deficiencies at LH and TK are widespread through the industry. Just this week, Air France executives were attacked by employees because of management’s plans to fire thousands of workers.

These developments beg the fundamental question: can airline executives avoid this seemingly inevitable decline into mediocrity? Why do airlines get dragged into service decline in such a predictable way? What is clear is that the LCCs and the Gulf Carriers are waiting with open arms to welcome disillusioned passengers from the European carriers.

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