Franz hands over 'well ordered' organisation: Lufthansa

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Christoph Franz is ending his tenure as Lufthansa chief executive with a “positive result” and handing over a “well-ordered organisation”, supervisory board chairman Mayrhuber said at the airline group’s annual general meeting in Hamburg today.

Franz unexpectedly revealed in September 2013 that he would not extend his contract, which expires at the end of May. He had succeeded Wolfgang Mayrhuber as Lufthansa Group chief executive in January 2011, and set in motion the controversial efficiency programme “Score”. Now, he is set to become chairman of Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche. Carsten Spohr takes over as Lufthansa chief on 1 May.

Earlier this month, the airline’s pilots staged a three-day strike which caused the cancellation of 3,800 flights, affecting around 425,000 passengers, and generated a medium double-digit million loss for the airline.

The pilots’ walkout came after Lufthansa terminated a transitional pay arrangement, covering early retirement, in late 2013. But the underlying cause was the failure to reach a new general wage agreement for over two years. The previous bargaining agreement expired in May 2012, but has since remained in place as no new deal could be reached.

Nevertheless, Franz “laid important foundations and worked tirelessly to make the group fit for the future”, says Mayhuber. Adjusted for non-recurring effects, operating profit grew 62% to €1.04 billion ($1.44 billion) in 2013, while revenues remained virtually unchanged at just over €30 billion, the airline says.

While he argues that the implemented efficiency improvements have created a “basis” for “necessary earnings improvements in the coming years”, Franz also says: “We know that we have demanded a lot from our employees.”