It was only a matter of time.
At today’s media briefing held at London’s The Shard it was confirmed that Lufthansa Group, along with Air Canada and United will be rolling out transatlantic hand baggage only (HBO) fares.
As yet we do not know exactly when these carriers will launch the fares, or how much cheaper they will be compared to normal economy tariffs.
What we do know, however, is that the HBO tariffs will be introduced later this year.
Dr. Stefan Kreuzpaintner, Vice President Sales – Europe, Middle East & Africa, Lufthansa Group Airlines said
“On the north Atlantic we do things together with United and Air Canada, so it can’t be something that they offer that we don’t. Last summer we launched HBO fares out of Scandinavia with a lot of success. It was only available on Lufthansa.com and our direct associates. We saw an increase in terms of market share and passenger figures and we are now working with United and Air Canada to figure out a launch. We will hopefully offer it as soon as possible.”
It seems likely that this means it will launch at the start of the winter timetable (at the end of October).
Why so long? As Dr Kreuzpaintner says, it’s because there are several airlines involved with their individual operating procedures, networks and so on.
Lufthansa Group comprises Lufthansa mainline along with Austrian Airlines and Swiss. The other two carriers, Air Canada and United, operate JV (joint venture) marketing agreements with the Lufthansa Group.
What about Eurowings? Isn’t it also a Lufthansa Group member? Yes it is. But Eurowings already operates transatlantic from Germany and it already markets HBO fares.
As I said at the start of this piece, the above-mentioned airlines had little choice but to introduce HBO fares.
Although transatlantic low-cost carriers have sold HBO fares more or less from the start, it is only fairly recently that conventional carriers decided to follow suit in dribs and drabs, as Business Traveller has reported on numerous occasions (see The rise of the transatlantic hand baggage only fare).
Indeed Lufthansa mainline has itself already been trialling HBO fares for transatlantic flights which depart Scandinavia (but not in any other European market including Germany).
When Lufthansa Group, Air Canada and United finally introduce HBO fares a few stragglers will remain, but they will eventually follow as sure as night follows day.