Lufthansa is in trouble with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration for operating “illegally” from two U.S. cities. In fact, the FAA implies that Lufthansa knowingly flouted regulations. That plays into a common theme: does Lufthansa think it’s above the law?
I ask that question in all seriousness, even as the FAA issue–which I will discuss below–is but a morsel of the larger question. As much as I love Lufthansa and consider its first class product one of the best in the world, I’ve had my issues with Lufthansa over the years.
Flight late? EU261/2004 requires Lufthansa to pay up, but good luck collecting. Lufthansa seems to take the health insurance approach of initially issuing an automatic denial and hoping that you let it go. In other words, Lufthansa thinks it is above the law when it comes to this regulation.
When it comes to competition in Germany, Lufthansa wants protection for itself and to squeeze everyone else out. That is why it calls budget carriers immoral and fights so hard to keep Emirates out. It does not want to operate on a level playing field: it wants to operate above the law.
Even during irregular operations, Lufthansa is quick to act in the most unethical ways, often referring passengers back to the ticketing carrier or informing them that a downgrade is necessary. It is only when you push back and refuse to back down that Lufthansa will relent…and do the right thing.
Clearly, I am defining law not in a strict sense, but in the broader sense of fair play and honest dealings. That leads me to the latest FAA issue.
Lufthansa In Trouble With FAA For “Illegal” US Flights
Specifically, the FAA claims that Lufthansa operated flights to/from Philadelphia and San Diego without FAA authorization.
- Between March 22, 2018, and May 27, 2019, Lufthansa operated approximately 600 flights with A340-300s between Frankfurt and San Diego
- Between October 28, 2018, and April 10, 2019, Lufthansa operated approximately 292 flights with A330-300 and 747-400 aircraft between Frankfurt and Philadelphia
Of note in the FAA press release is the following charge:
The FAA alleges Lufthansa operated the flights into and out of San Diego International and Philadelphia International airports when it knew it lacked FAA authorization to do so.
I tend to agree with One Mile at a Time that someone at the FAA should be fired if this is actually such a big deal. But at the same time, it fits into a pattern of practice with Lufthansa.
Lufthansa, over the years and in a variety off ways, has taken a “laws for thee, not for me” approach. Getting Lufthansa to do the right thing requires far more arm-twisting than should be warranted for an airline like Lufthansa. And don’t get me started on SWISS and Lufthansa’s other subsidiaries…
Whether it a combination of arrogance, ignorance, malevolence, or a combination of all three, the latest FAA charge is par for the course for Lufthansa. While I deem this particular fine excessive, it fits a pattern of practice for the German carrier: Ich stehe über dem Gesetz. (I am above the law).