MIAMI— October 15, Lufthansa Airlines (LH) announced non-stop service between Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC) and their largest hub, Frankfurt (FRA). The 5x weekly service will begin on April 29, 2016, and will be operated with the A340-300.
Although Lufthansa and United operate flights to FRA from the nearby San Francisco International Airport (SFO), both the City of San Jose and Lufthansa believe that this flight will be a success. Juergen Siebenrock, Vice President of The Americas at Lufthansa said, “It’s an exciting time at Lufthansa as San Jose is one of several new, important destinations that we plan to add to our network in the coming months. Furthermore, we will be the first European airline to offer direct flights from San Jose to Germany, Europe and beyond, which emphasizes the importance of this region to our airline.”
British Airways (BA) announced, in August, that they would begin daily flights between SJC and London-Heathrow (LHR) with their B787-9 Dreamliners on May 4, 2016, but Lufthansa plans to start their service just five days before BA. Besides British Airways, long-haul international service offered at SJC includes Hainan Airlines five-weekly flights to Beijing and All Nippon Airways (ANA) daily flight to Tokyo-Narita, both on the 787 Dreamliner. In 2001, American Airlines offered a direct service to Taipei and Tokyo Narita as well, but the routes were closed after 9/11 events.
Between April 29 and June 30, Lufthansa will be operating the flight with their mainline A340-300, in the 30J, 28W, and 221Y configuration. After June 30, the flight will switch to an A340-300 operated by their CityLine division, with 18J, 19W, and 261Y configuration. The other three long-haul airlines that fly/will fly to SJC bring 787s with a large ratio of J seats to Y seats, looking for the lucrative Silicon Valley business traffic.
However, Lufthansa is bringing an aircraft with a high number of Y-class seats, indicating that they are looking for leisure travelers and so-call “VFR” (Visit Friends and Relatives) travelers as well as not diluting their own established market 35 miles up the road at SFO. With a large Indian population in the San Jose area, this flight is well timed for Indian connections. This new flight is squarely aimed at the ME3 (two of the three – Emirate and Etihad operates at SFO) and the newly announced SFO – Delhi (DEL) flight on Air India. Only time will tell whether this low-end strategy will be successful for Lufthansa.