In theory, members of an airline alliance are supposed to be the best of friends. But, in reality, the truth can be very different.
This appears to be the case with two of Star Alliance’s key members — Germany’s Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines — said to be embroiled in a commercial rift.
The falling out is the result of Turkish Airlines becoming too successful in wooing Lufthansa customers, particularly those flying long-haul, in its home market, according to German media reports.
As a result, Lufthansa and partner Austrian Airlines have retaliated by severing certain commercial arrangements with Turkish Airlines. The codesharing deals which have been put in place with Turkish Airlines will cease from March 29 next year.
But what will really disadvantage passengers is the cutting back of Miles and More status awards. Lufthansa passengers (belonging to Miles and More) who book Turkish Airlines will earn 75 per cent fewer status awards with effect from next January. Yet the same awards will remain at 100 per cent for those Lufthansa passengers who book other Star Alliance members.
A brief note on the Turkish Airlines page on the Miles and More website informs members of their reduced earnings. Status awards allow members to reach higher frequent flyer programme tiers.
According to Der Spiegel, Turkish Airlines has been “sucking massive [amounts of] customers from Germany”.
Turkish Airlines’ success lies in its targeting both main and secondary airports with keen pricing and convenient connections, much as the Gulf carriers do.
One German business traveller said: “It appears Turkish Airlines is the new ‘monster’ for Lufthansa. It is stealing market share in the same way as Emirates has done.”
How is this happening? It is partly because of keen pricing but also because the big European airlines neglect their secondary airports in favour of concentrating their operations at one or two hubs. It’s a policy that works to the detriment of travellers who live and work in the regions.
In Germany, almost all Lufthansa long-haul flights depart from Frankfurt or Munich. So travellers based in major cities like Cologne, Dusseldorf, Hamburg, Berlin and Stuttgart feel neglected.
It is a similar scenario here in the UK where our British Airways consolidates its long-haul services in London. This policy leaves the UK regions ripe for exploitation by foreign carriers.