Legacy airlines tackle Open Skies market

Lufthansa announces six new flights, discount airline easyJet continues expansion with Milan route.

Lufthansa airplane 311 (photo credit: Courtesy of Lufthansa)
Lufthansa airplane 311
(photo credit: Courtesy of Lufthansa)
Though low-cost carriers were expected to be the big winners of the Open Skies agreement, legacy airlines are adapting and taking advantage of the flexibility in the aviation market as well.
Lufthansa this week announced that it would introduce six flights to Ben-Gurion Airport, adding three flights each to its hubs in Munich and Frankfurt.
While an increase in low-cost flights was a challenge, Lufthansa was moving to a more narrow-bodied fleet and hoped to sell its broader international reach, using its hubs to connect vacationers and business travelers to far-reaching destinations.
According to Tal Muscal, head of Lufthansa’s communications in Israel, Open Skies offered such airlines an opportunity.
Previously, the number of landing slots a given airline could obtain was limited by bilateral trade agreements. The Open Skies agreement could actually help those who can compete expand their presence as the barriers are being taken down.
“With the implementation of the Open Skies agreement between the European community and Israel, Lufthansa can offer its customers, whether business people or tourists, a wider variety of connecting flights to destinations all around the world,” said Lufthansa Israel CEO Karsten Zang.
That said, it has been low-cost airlines that have made headlines in recent weeks as they ramp up their connections to Israel.
On Thursday, easyJet announced a route from Tel Aviv to Milan, its third such announcement in less than a month, following routes to Berlin and London Gatwick.
“[The] Tel Aviv-Milan route is a direct result of the historic Open Skies agreement between the EU and Israel that recently came into force,” the company said in a press release.
In late November, El Al announced a new low-cost carrier, “Up,” to compete with the influx of discount airlines on the market.