Air Transport World

CityLine comes of (jet) age. (Company Profile)

FRANKFURT--Even if DLT hadn't been operating as a low-profile commuter affiliate under the protective wings of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, its turboprop planes, limited route network and dowdy livery weren't exantly calculated to turn heads or take anyone's breath away.

Still, from 1988 until last year, passenger figures at DLT climbed at a rate of 20% a year, amounting to more than a third of the interrogional air traffic flown from Germany. Business travelers comprise 85% of the passengers.

Now, almost imperceptibly, a fresh corporate identity has been bolted into place, turning DLT deftly into Lufthansa CityLine--a classy, downsized Lufthansa clone. The company is on the verge of becoming a jet operator for the first time, gaining the ability to serve new and more distant destinations at less cost than ever.

A sweeping media campaign launched to introduce the new brand name has underlined the impression that here, definitely, is an airline with a built-in split image: Close commercial and visual affinity with majority owner Lufthansa on the one hand, independent operator on the other. Shades of American Eagle, Delta Connection and United Express,not to mention the highly successful, wholly owned KLM Cityhopper or the Swiss regional, Crossair.

"We share the same commitment to a product quality and in-flight service as our parent enterprise," explains CityLine Managing Director Gerhard Schmid. "What sets us apart is concentrating on the long, thin European routes--tapping markets that are commercially important by simply don't generate enough passenger demand to be economically viable for Lufthansa to serve, even with its smallest aircraft, the Boeing 737.

Some of those markets turn out to be very viable indeed, with 50-seat planes. In that context, CityLine considers itself the ideal complement to Lufthansa's service range, providing nonstop links between primary and secondary business centers in Germany and the rest of Europe." Only about 25% of the passengers are in transit to or from Lufthansa flights.

Of course, rival airlines haven't been sleeping, either, when it comes to developing intra-European networks, and "the classic distinction between regional and trunk carriers has all but vanished here," declares Schmid. …

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