Star Alliance fans wishing to patronise Lufthansa for their trips between Europe and Guangzhou in southern China may have to opt for an alternative next year.
Lufthansa launched its Frankfurt-Guangzhou route was launched in 2004. If it is axed, as expected, Lufthansa will be following in the footsteps of Oneworld member Finnair. The Finnish flag-carrier inaugurated Helsinki-Guangzhou service in 2005 only to scrap it three years later.
Although Lufthansa has yet to make an official announcement, flight details for its non-stop Guangzhou service have been removed from its website for travel after March 23.
Would-be passengers now are offered connections via Beijing with a considerable increase in journey time from today’s 11hrs 40 mins to 15 hrs or more.
On the surface this comes as a surprise. After all, Guangzhou boasts mainland China’s second largest airport and isn’t China itself considered the flavour of the month?
The problem for Lufthansa is that Guangzhou is a Skyteam stronghold. It’s also the main hub of China Southern who, like Air France and KLM (both ply between Europe and Guangzhou), are all members of same alliance. It means that carriers of rival Star and Oneworld do not get much of a look in.
The one exception being the increasingly powerful Gulf-based Emirates and Qatar Airways. Both operate daily with large capacity B777-300ERs.
The Gulf airlines succeed because their hubs of Dubai and Doha enjoy gifted geographical locations. It means that besides wooing passengers heading to or from Europe they can also tap the voluminous passenger traffic between mainland China and Africa.
There are now many thousands of Chinese enterprises based in Africa. ChinaDaily.com claims that China is now Africa’s largest trading partner with trade having reached US$126.90 billion by the end of last year.
Another factor is the proximity of Hong Kong. Some European travellers bound for the Shenzen/Guangzhou region prefer to take advantage of the greater choice of air service into Hong Kong. They then proceed overland using the direct ferries from Hong Kong airport (click here for more information on onward travel from HKIA).
For more information visit lufthansa.com.
Report by Alex McWhirter