Germany’s Munich Airport is set to continue its hub development as Lufthansa plans to use the airport as its hub for flights to Asia, airport president and CEO Michael Kerkloh said.

“The first phase of that strategy becomes live this summer with the opening of new Munich-Osaka Kansai [Japan] services. This route will be transferred from Frankfurt to Munich,” Kerkloh told ATW.

Additional new Lufthansa services from Munich to Asia include flights to Bangkok as well as more frequencies to Singapore and Seoul.

Munich is Lufthansa Group’s second major hub next to Frankfurt, and the company has been growing its long-haul network there. The carrier recently moved five Airbus A380s from Frankfurt to Munich.

“Important for our hub was the successful implementation of Lufthansa’s A380s. The current A380 destinations show, [despite] the large size of the aircraft, that load factors are very good,” Kerkloh said. “Lufthansa has hinted in 2020 it wants to relocate two more A380s to Munich, but that is not yet fixed.”

Lufthansa is also transferring larger-capacity narrowbodies, such as A321s, to Munich to provide more feed, while more Bombardier CRJ900s will fly from Frankfurt.

Munich’s intercontinental network is becoming denser and hub development is crucial, Kerkloh said.

In addition to recently launched Bogota-Munich services by Colombia-based Avianca, Santiago-based LATAM Airlines Group will launch Sao Paolo-Munich flights this year, he said.

“Also, to the US there is a lot going on. American Airlines started services to Dallas [and] flights to Charlotte became double daily services,” Kerkloh said.

Competition is intensifying between global airline alliances and their hub airports, he said. “We are a Star Alliance hub where Lufthansa is a member.”

Munich’s further hub development also depends on obtaining traffic rights.

“Our route network from Munich must continue organic growth, like to Asia. But we have a difficult time getting necessary traffic rights. This also applies to Africa,” he said.

In 2018, Munich reported another record-setting year as total passenger traffic rose 4% to 46.3 million year-over-year. The number of takeoffs and landings increased 2.2% to more than 413,000.

Passenger traffic on long-haul flights was up 7% and European routes saw an increase of around 5% compared to 2017. Load factors on flights to and from Munich reached 77.5% on average.

“Despite the challenging conditions, including the insolvency of several airlines and above-average numbers of canceled flights, we achieved very solid increases in passenger traffic and aircraft movements in 2018,” Kerkloh said in a statement. “Thanks to the new A380 and A350 long-haul aircraft now based here and the launch of new intercontinental destinations, I am confident that Munich Airport has excellent prospects despite our increasing capacity crunch.”

Kurt Hofmann, hofmann.aviation@netway.at