Airline boss in call for land transport infrastructure investment

LUFTHANSA Group UK boss Christian Schindler is backing calls for improvements in the North’s over-land transport infrastructure.

Schindler, the group’s regional director for the UK, Ireland and Iceland was speaking as Lufthansa closed in on its millionth passenger milestone through Manchester Airport.

And he pointed to schemes in Lufthansa’s Germany homeland, where the group had supported rail links instead of “ultra-short haul” flights as a way of helping to protect the environment.

Schindler, who also addressed the UK Northern Powerhouse conference at Manchester Central, told “Better rail links between Manchester and other parts of the North will further drive passenger flows and the region as a whole will benefit.

“If you look at the North, you have a train station at the airport, which is vital. The next step is, how do you better connect it?”

Schindler hailed the “seamless system” in Germany where airports had railway stations.

“In Germany, you can buy your ticket and travel on the train to Frankfurt Airport and connect to the flight with just one ticket. Lufthansa has been at the forefront of replacing flights with ground transportation.”

Schindler went on to say the group had all but resolved the issues which sparked industrial action by up to about 40,000 Lufthansa staff in Germany  – last year.

“We had a tough situation last year,” he said. “It’s not that common, but we had long period of austerity and in general we have very good co-operation between both sides – employers and unions.

“This is the reason why the business is thriving in Germany. But there are a lot of changes taking place in our industry and we could not continue as we used to and there needed to be some changes.

“A lot of it is about the comany pensions, which is something which has been a topic in the UK. It led to a lot of unrest and strikes.

“The good news is that we reached an agreement with all ground staff and cabin crew. The details are currently being discussed behind closed doors, but, basically, this is all on track. We’re now looking forward to a new agreement which works for both sides.”

Schindler said Lufthansa was infazed by the introduction by Ryanair of three new German routes aimed at the business market.

He said: “We’re never worries about competition, although we always look at what the competition is doing. For us, competition is good, but we have very competitive pricing.”