With one month left to go, AIR Convention Europe 2019 has conducted a series of interviews with its speakers, asking them to share their thoughts on some of the aviation industry’s major challenges, successful strategies and innovations.
Joerg Eberhart has been CEO of Air Dolomiti, the Italian carrier wholly owned by Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA) , since 2014. In this interview, Eberhart talks about expansion plans, IATA’s membership and the path of renewal for the airline.
Could you tell us more about Air Dolomiti current expansion plans?
Most recent expansion plans foresee an increase of own business’ flights, namely connections between Italy and Germany, which are fully managed by Air Dolomiti. All of them, as the Turin-Munich or the Florence-Frankfurt, are operated with multi-day frequency.
The implementation of many connections accomplished together with Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA) is also planned, in particular from Munich to Brussels, Prague, Sofia, Bilbao and many others. Our commercial expansion program will be completed with the forthcoming increase of our fleet that will count 26 Embraer 195s by 2023.
Concerning the internal area, my plans regard primarily the personnel. Our goal is to double the number of employees that by the next four years will achieve 1,000 units.
Recently, Air Dolomiti has become a member of IATA. What new perspectives does it open for the airline and how do they complement its current plans for growth?
We were very proud to join IATA, the international authority that has always worked to safeguard and support the aeronautics industry by setting standards on operational costs, maximizing investments’ efficiency and creating specific training programs for airline professionals. I am certain that the Association will be able to support us greatly in our important growth plan and that its international concept will encourage us to reach an industrial character.
What kind of major innovation breakthroughs are expected at Air Dolomiti in the next few years?
Air Dolomiti is constantly keeping up to date with the latest airline directions in terms of technological innovations. More in detail, we are developing a new platform that will allow digitalization of several manual activities and backup files like the TLB, a logbook that registers all flight data regarding aircraft maintenance works and any external damage report manually completed by Maintenance staff. The objective is to finalize digitalization saving time, reducing human factor risks as well as reducing paper waste and perform significant resources optimization. Another very interesting project for the future is the use of drones in our Engineering and Maintenance departments in order to complete structural aircraft inspections.
What biggest obstacles do you see in following the path of growth and renewal?
An increase of passengers is forecasted in the next years in Europe and that is a comforting fact. Nevertheless, the aeronautic industry is going through a difficult time as new players are entering the market and making the competitive situation crowded. I think it is vital to create synergies that enhance a greater bargaining power, which is necessary to overcome high fuel costs. In the last few months, many low-cost companies collapsed because of an excessive competition. Furthermore, nowadays the environmental issue must not be underestimated: in spite of the commitments of the sector, there is still much to be done and the public opinion is very sensitive about it.
Joerg Eberhart is going to join the Commercial Aviation Forum panel discussion “USP’s in consolidating airline industry” during AIR Convention Europe 2019. Attend to hear the first-hand opinions from 60+ aviation leaders on September 16-18th, 2019.