Lufthansa’s CEO, Carsten Spohr, has renewed his claims that super-low fares are irresponsible. The comments come almost a year after similar comments reignited a long-running spat between Lufthansa and Ryanair.
Low fares are the marmite of the aviation industry. You either love them or hate them. While Ryanair understandably loves low-fares (its entire business is built around them), Lufthansa’s CEO hates them, and he doesn’t mind people knowing his views. The two airlines are often in a tit for tat fight, with Ryanair’s CEO recently calling Lufthansa “the drunk uncle at a wedding.”
In an interview with the Swiss NZZ newspaper, Spohr renewed his comments that low-cost fares are irresponsible. He went as far as to say that such tariffs damage the reputation of the industry. Translated, Sphor told the NZZ newspaper during an interview,
“I think tickets for € 9.99 are ecologically and economically irresponsible. This damages the reputation of our industry.”
Spohr’s comments are nothing new, and Ryanair is well aware of them. Indeed, the low-cost airline has previously used Sphor’s comments in its advertising:
— Laudamotion (@Laudamotion1) May 9, 2019
Ryanair’s CEO, Michael O’Leary, recently blasted Lufthansa for accepting €9 billion ($10 billion) of state aid, saying that Lufthansa was “coordinating a State-sponsored price-setting cartel.”
Are low fares irresponsible?
Spohr stands by his claims that €9.99 fares are irresponsible from both an ecologic and economic point of view, but are they?
Let’s start by looking at the ecologic viewpoint, excluding the impact of the current aviation situation. Ryanair, while offering low fares, claims that it is one of the greenest airlines in Europe. Indeed, the airline’s low fares may encourage higher load factors, as more seats will be bought on a plane.
Taking the Frankfurt-Dublin route as an example, Ryanair typically operates flights with half of the frequency of Lufthansa. In January 2019, Ryanair’s average load factor was 91%. This compared to 76.4% for Lufthansa in the same month. With this in mind, surely higher fares are more irresponsible from an ecological point of view?
From an economic standpoint, there are also arguments to be made for Ryanair. The Irish airline’s low fares lower the barrier to travel for many, who may not be able to afford it. With tickets starting at £100, going to see family may be a dream or require serious savings for some. Especially if it’s a family of four traveling both ways, where you’re already at £800.
Even if fares are only £20, the total amount spent is already much lower than that spent on a full-service carrier. You may argue that once you’ve bought extras, the prices may be similar. However, with the low-cost model, you’re able to only pay for what you need. Additionally, many full-fare airlines are already starting to unbundle economy fares, so seat selections and bags, etc… must be purchased separately.
Do you think low fares are irresponsible? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!