The Lufthansa Group has appointed Heike Birlenbach (50) as the new Senior Vice President Sales Lufthansa Hub Airlines and Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) Hub Frankfurt. She will succeed Jens Bischof, who has been appointed to the position of Managing Director of the airline SunExpress, effective 1 January 2017. SunExpress is a joint venture between Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines.
Beginning on 1 January 2017, Heike Birlenbach will take over the global responsibility for world-wide sales for all the Lufthansa Group’s Hub airlines (Lufthansa, SWISS, Austrian Airlines) and provide support for the sales activities of Eurowings and Brussels Airlines. Functionally, Heike Birlenbach will report directly to Harry Hohmeister, the Board Member of Deutsche Lufthansa AG responsible for the network airlines. She will also direct and be responsible for all commercial matters of the Lufthansa airline at Frankfurt Airport as CCO Hub Frankfurt. In this capacity, she will report to Klaus Froese, CEO Lufthansa German Airlines Hub Frankfurt.
Harry Hohmeister said: “Heike Birlenbach is a proven sales expert who has successfully increased our sales volume in Europe’s various markets. Going forward, she will be responsible for the further development and conclusion of the sales integration of the various Hub airlines. Heike Birlenbach will also modernize the distribution landscape in cooperation with our sales partners.”
As Head of Sales for the Hub Airlines of the Lufthansa Group, Heike Birlenbach will direct all B2B sales measures around the world, for instance with corporate customers, travel agencies and travel operators. She will also expand the direct connect solutions of partners to the booking systems of the Hub Airlines and continue the development of direct sales. An additional goal of the Lufthansa Group is the establishment of a global, fully integrated, cross-brand sales organization.
Heike Birlenbach joined Lufthansa in 1990 and started to work at Frankfurt Airport. Whilst studying tourism and economics, she moved to the sales organisation in 1994 where she worked in the global key account management. In 1999, she was appointed General Manager Marketing and Sales Support Europe, based in London. Subsequently, in 2002 she was in charge of the airline’s organization in the Benelux countries, based in Amsterdam.
Heike Birlenbach returned to Lufthansa’s headquarters in Frankfurt in 2006 as Head of Product Management for domestic and European traffic. In 2009, she was appointed Head of Lufthansa Italia, based in Milan. Beginning in 2011, Heike Birlenbach was Head of Cabin Management in Munich, responsible for 4,500 cabin staff and their training, as well as quality of service. In her current position as Vice President Sales Europe for the Lufthansa Group, she has been responsible for Sales and Marketing for the airlines in the Lufthansa Group in 42 countries since 2014 – with the exception of the home markets Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
Heike Birlenbach has a Master of Management from McGill University in Montreal, Canada.