Lufthansa introduces group-wide cabin specifications

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Lufthansa Group carriers have agreed on common cabin specifications as a first step to cut costs by employing standardised equipment across the airline consortium's different fleets.

The German airline started a project together with its subsidiary Swiss International Air Lines last year. It is studying potential cost savings by streamlining aircraft purchasing, operation and maintenance with common equipment.

This is part of the group's cost-cutting and revenue improvement programme 'Score'.

The new standards cover seats, galleys and in-flight entertainment systems for Lufthansa's mainline fleet; European low-cost branch Germanwings; wholly-owned subsidiaries Austrian Airlines and Swiss; and part-owned Brussels Airlines.

But due to long equipment lead times, the uniform specifications will not come into force until the introduction of the next cabin interior generation, which is scheduled to be installed from 2019, says Lufthansa in an internal employee publication.

The Frankfurt-based airline group expects that the joint procurement of cabin equipment across its different operator fleets will create total cost savings of up to €10 million ($13.5 million) a year.

This could be increased if the group carriers were to take the cabin specification "a step further", says Lufthansa. But that would depend on approval by employee committees - which have a say in the airlines' product strategies - "especially at Lufthansa German Airlines", adds the company.

Relations between Lufthansa's management and cabin crews were strained last year when the carrier's flight attendants went on strike over future working conditions.

The group's management appears to be evaluating the establishment of unified committees across the different airline subsidiaries in future.

Lufthansa says that it will establish a joint commission between the five carriers to ensure compliance with the new rules and their further development.

This is to be reappraised at the end of this year "to assess whether further synergies could be harnessed if the participants from the various airlines were integrated into an organisational unit".

While common equipment is to be installed across the group's entire fleet, the airline identities are to be maintained through cosmetic differences such as individual colour schemes.

When Lufthansa introduced a new seat for its short-haul fleet in December 2010, the particularly slim design - which allowed the installation of more seat rows - was also adopted by Germanwings, Austrian, Swiss and Brussels Airlines.