Herman de Wulf/BRUSSELS

Luxair is to refocus on short-haul routes serving the European business community, ruling out further forays into the long-haul market and calling into question the future of its leisure routes and those serving destinations beyond Europe.


The Luxembourg carrier's new president and chief executive Christian Heinzmann says it will concentrate on regional services linking the banking centre with key European cities.

Heinzmann - formerly of Belgian-based airline VLM - was brought in to run Luxair on 2 January, and says its "future policy will be to steer away from long-haul services" with the aim of restoring profitability this year.

"We can't compete with the many more important hubs that surround Luxembourg," he says. "Instead we should concentrate on our core business which is in Europe. Luxair has to make more efficient use of its aircraft, and we are therefore looking again at our destinations and evaluating them carefully. We may abandon some and we may add others."

Luxair launched a daily long-haul service to New York in 1999 with a Boeing 767 wet-leased from CityBird, but abandoned it the same year after losing money on the route. The carrier's longest remaining sectors are to the Canary Islands and the Red Sea resort of Hurghada in Egypt -destinations clearly non-core given its new strategy.

Luxair took an LFr190 million ($4.28 million) loss last year on sales of LFr10 billion after rising fuel costs and exchange rate changes took a major toll. The airline carried 1.1 million passengers, with a load factor of just 56.9%. Luxair Group was nevertheless profitable thanks to the contribution of Cargoloux, in which it has a 35% stake.

Luxair serves 37 destinations with an 18-aircraft fleet, comprising four 50-seat Fokker 50 turboprops, nine 49-seat Embraer ERJ-145 jets, two Boeing 737-400s and two 737-500s.

Source: Flight International