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On June 19 we were delighted to host the CEO of Austrian Airlines, Dr. Alexis von Hoensbroech, in the Lauder Business School ball room. He delivered an inspiring fireplace talk about his career path, the aviation industry in general, and the Austrian Airlines company structure and strategy.

Austrian Airlines is the flag carrier of Austria and a subsidiary of the Lufthansa Group. The airline is headquartered on the grounds of Vienna International Airport in Schwechat, where it also maintains its hub. It has 83 aircraft flying to 130 destinations, achieving 2.5 billion revenues with 7,000 employees. The industry has seen a steady growth over the years, with a certainty of expanding further, e.g. 4 billion people flew in 2018, yet 80% of world’s population has never flown.

Von Hoensbroech has served as CEO of the Executive Board of Austrian Airlines since August 2018. He is responsible for the divisions Flight Operations (including Cabin), Technology, Ground Operations, Human Resources, Business Development & Corporate Strategy, Corporate Communications as well as Legal and Audit. Sharing his fascination of the airline industry and flying, he also pointed out that it is a very challenging ecosystem from the commercial point of view.

Some of the topics discussed with our students included:

  • comparison of the American and the European airline markets
  • low-cost airlines vs. Austrian Airlines and their competitive advantage
  • adapting to the preferences of the market, constant development and innovation
  • political dimension and the government as part of the institutional infrastructure

Dr. Alexis von Hoensbroech also emphasized the importance of safety, as safety is a top priority in this industry. Since the 60’s safety has been constantly improved and ultimately perfected, now serving as a role model and benchmark for other industries. In his words, “It is a self-learning environment where every instance is scrutinized in detail and safety measurements are constantly being optimized.”

Another major aspect of this industry heavily discussed was also the environmental debate around CO2 emissions, yet the airline industry is the only transportation industry that agreed on the CO2 target by 2020 on a global level. Concerning innovation of this aspect, at the moment there are developments on synthetic fuels however it is still a long way before cancelling kerosene or fully developing and shifting to electric-powered airplanes.

The fireplace talk concluded with an open discussion and engagement with our students. Our guest ended the session with a call out to our students to apply for open job and internship positions, thereby highlighting the need for women pilots and female leadership.

For current vacancies please visit the Austrian Airline career portal.