The Lufthansa Group airlines — Lufthansa, SWISS, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines — on Thursday claimed substantial progress regarding B2B direct connections, while announcing further developments of its distribution strategy on the sidelines of the ITB trade show in Berlin.
“The most significant factor of our strategy is a progressive presentation of our high-quality products in the B2B distribution channels, which now includes considerably more information,” said Jens Bischof, Executive Vice President Sales and Chief Commercial Officer Hub Frankfurt.
According to Mr Bischof, since the realignment, which began in June 2015, the Lufthansa Group has achieved more significant successes.
Mr Bischof claimed that Lufthansa has achieved more substantial progress with its B2B direct connections in the last six months that in the past five years.
According to Lufthansa, fourteen B2B distribution partners are already using direct booking interfaces (Direct Connect) to the Lufthansa Group for ticket sales as an alternative to the existing booking channels, including FTI-Ticketshop (subsidiary of the FTI Group).
In the tour operator segment, L’TUR uses its own direct connection for the creation of travel packages with flights from the Lufthansa Group for both its local and online business and Vtours has already put its direct connection to the Lufthansa Group into operation.
Furthermore, TUI has confirmed its plans for the alternative distribution channel Direct Connect, and is preparing for the acquisition of flights with Lufthansa via a direct connection.
The Lufthansa Group is also in talks with Thomas Cook regarding the possibility of a direct connection.
Lufthansa also informed that the B2C partnership commenced in November last year with Google Flights in the USA was very successful. On March 7 the pilot project was expanded to include the countries France, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Poland as well as Canada in North America. The ‘Book on Google’ function enables the customer to make his Lufthansa booking within Google user experience.
Furthermore, during the ITB, Lufthansa launched a pilot project with a direct connection to a major German tour operator, based on the new IATA data standard ‘New Distribution Capability’ (NDC). Recently SWISS also launched a NDC pilot project in cooperation with the technology provider Datalex.
The NDC Standard was developed by IATA with the support of the Lufthansa Group and many other industry partners in order to provide considerably more product information and available options at the time of booking and in B2B sales by means of a more efficient data format.
“We have thus created the essential building blocks for the basis of our distribution strategy through our cooperation with technology providers, through the direct connections to important B2B partners and with the new data standard NDC”, Mr Bischof concluded.