Lufthansa will launch a new denser mainline platform dubbed ‘Jump’ internally with Airbus A340-300 aircraft by the third quarter of 2015, says chief commercial officer Jens Bischof.
“Jump is the first line of defence in long-haul and it’s not a separate brand,” he says aboard the inaugural revenue flight with the Star Alliance carrier’s new premium economy product today. “Jump is an adapted platform where we fly according to the market needs – no first class, relatively small business class, premium economy and economy.”
The platform will launch with three A340-300s configured with about 300 seats, or about a 13% to 35% increase from current configurations. Lufthansa will install its newest business, premium economy and economy seats on the aircraft.
The Jump fleet will increase to 14 of the 19 A340-300s in Lufthansa’s fleet over time, though Bischof says the airline does not have a firm timeline yet.
The platform will operate from Frankfurt airport, he says.
Lufthansa announced that the new platform would include up to 14 aircraft when it reached a cost savings deal with its flight attendants in September. The plans were first disclosed in July.
Lower costs are key to Jump. Lufthansa has negotiated a roughly 20% reduction in costs compared to its core operation from airports, catering, labour and maintenance, says Bischof.
In addition, the decision to use older A340s eliminates any potential capital costs, he adds.
“If we want to participate in growth fields – different markets in the emerging markets but also some more solid markets – we have to add a new production platform at lower costs to make ourselves profitable and participate in those growth fields,” says Bischof.
Some possible initial destinations for Jumpy include cities like Chennai, the Seychelles and Tampa.
Jump is separate from Lufthansa’s plans for a new long-haul low-cost subsidiary under its “Wings” plan. Bischof calls this a “second line of defence” against the likes of the Gulf carriers, Turkish Airlines and expanding European low-cost carriers.
While the intercontinental LCC plans are still in development, it will include a new brand, different ground and onboard product, and different staffing, he says. The operation will be based in Germany and operate from a base at either Cologne, Dusseldorf or Munich airports.
“We aren’t doing tricks like hiring in Ireland, going through an employment company in, I don’t know, the Caymans and trying to let them fly from Germany,” says Bischof, in a reference to Norwegian’s attempt to create a new long-haul LCC with such a complicated organisation structure.