Sep 22, 2010
FRANKFURT - Germany's flag carrier Lufthansa
announced Wednesday that its deputy chief executive, Christoph Franz
, is to take over the top job at Europe's biggest airline.
The airline's supervisory board named Franz as successor to Wolfgang Mayrhuber, who led the airline through a period of expansion.
A former top railway executive, the 50-year-old Franz took over responsibility for the carrier's passenger operations in June 2009.
He joined Lufthansa in 1990 and more recently helped to spearhead the restructuring of one of the carrier's new offshoots, Swiss Airlines.
Franz's appointment comes as the global aviation industry emerges from a sharp slump in business following last year's recession.
Lufthansa posted a 112-million-euro (150-million-dollar) net loss in 2009, after posting a net profit of 542 million euros during the previous year.
But on Monday, the International Air Transport Association (IATA)raised its industry earnings forecast, saying it now expects airlines to report profits totalling 8.9 billion dollars this year.
Franz is expected to take over from Mayrhuber at the end of the year, when the 63-year-old Mayrhuber's contract will expire after seven years as Lufthansa's chief.
However, the new Lufthansa chief's appointment comes as the airline faces up to a series of tough challenges.
This includes dealing with the intense competition from budget airlines in its key European market, as well as the rivalry from fast-growing carriers from oil-rich Middle Eastern states on long- haul routes.
With its passenger numbers coming in at 76.5 million passengers last year, Lufthansa emerged as Europe's biggest airline.
The new Lufthansa chief will also have to consider steps to ensure a steady flow of European passengers through its three key hubs in Frankfurt, Munich and Dusseldorf.
Apart from presiding over a round of savings at Lufthansa, Mayrhuber drove the carrier's acquisitions of Swiss Airlines, Brussels Airlines and Austrian Airlines along with British Midland.
Analysts have also been speculating that, at some point, Lufthansa might consider launching takeovers of Poland's Lot and Scandinavia's SAS.
Source: M&C News