Lufthansa believes the rapid growth phase of Gulf airlines is coming to end, which could help to ease some of the pressure in a highly competitive industry, its chief executive said on Wednesday.
Speaking after signing catering and maintenance deals with Abu Dhabi-based Etihad, Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr said there were signs Gulf rivals were reaching the limits of their recent growth.
“I’ll leave that to the airlines in this region but I think this industry needs to see a healthier relationship between (supply) and demand. And I am optimistic we will see this in the years to come,” he said.
Lufthansa has long been critical of the rapid growth of Gulf carriers, which include Emirates and Qatar Airways as well as Etihad, saying the fact they are state backed creates an unfair playing field.
Spohr said he “stands firm” on that view.
European airlines such as Lufthansa have been cutting costs and revamping their cabins to try to cope with competition from the Gulf carriers on long-haul routes.
But some Gulf carriers have recently also struck a more cautious tone. Etihad, for example, is reviewing its network of equity stakes in carriers Air Berlin, Alitalia and Air Serbia.