Lufthansa used to have a wet lease operator called PrivatAir operate their flight on Pune to Frankfurt using their Boeing 737-700BBJ. They recently cancelled their contract with PrivatAir and subsequently stopped the flights to Pune. Pune had only one direct connection to Europe, and hence this was a lucrative route for Lufthansa. So, this must have been a blow to the India revenue.
Now, Lufthansa has come up with a creative, but a not so great solution. This is more of an beware post for those who travel to Frankfurt from Pune on Lufthansa’s direct flight. Lufthansa plans on operating the Frankfurt – Pune route using an Airbus A319 from November 1, 2018. The flight will have a technical stop at Baku for refueling. The flight is blocked at 9:35 hours inbound and 11:35 hours outbound. Passengers won’t be able to get off the plane at Baku since it’s only a refuelling stop.
The schedule is as follows:
LH768 FRA 10:30 – 18:05 GYD
LH768 GYD 18:50 – 00:50 (+1) PNQ
LH769 PNQ 02:10 – 06:10 GYD
LH769 GYD 06:55 – 09:15 FRA
So what will the flight be like? Lufthansa’s Airbus A319 has a regional configuration and is used on intra-Europe flights. It will have 44 Business class seats and 72 Economy seats. The catch is, an intra-Europe Business class is just a normal Economy row with a blocked middle seat. This offers a greater flexibility as Lufthansa can add/subtract the number of Business class seats as per demand.
The only difference is that you get an enhanced meal service. It is exactly the same as GoAir’s GoBusiness. The plane doesn’t have seatback or streamable IFE nor does it have drop down monitors. They offer WiFi on select A320 family aircraft so there is a good chance this flight won’t have it. A roundtrip economy ticket retails for INR 57k.
Or INR 1.7 lakh for a roundtrip Business Class ticket.
The worst part, the seats are slimline, with a 30-inch pitch similar to what you will get on IndiGo.
Pune has a short runway so Lufthansa cannot operate a widebody aircraft even with payload restriction. They would have to wait for the new Pune airport to open but it is still years away from opening. So in the meantime, they deployed an Airbus A319 on the route. It would be similar to what you will experience on IndiGo’s new flight to London Gatwick, if that comes up, from New Delhi in terms of Economy hard product.
I get it that airlines want to maximise with what they have, but slimline seats with virtually zero padding (that too for Business class!!!) on an 11-hour flight is just pushing it. With so many one-stop options out of Pune to Frankfurt on Lufthansa and Air India, only those who don’t know what they are getting into will book this flight.
This is exactly what you would expect from a 5-star Skytrax Airline, right?