< PrevNext > Carsten Spohr, Lufthansa Group chairman & CEO Emperor of the European Skies By Amon Cohen / December 14, 2017 Share A perpetual debate rages among BTN editors: Do we honor as Most Influential those whose earlier work proved influential this year or those whose work this year should prove influential in the future? In the case of Carsten Spohr, the answer is both.Back in 2015, Lufthansa Group airlines became the first full-service carriers to restructure their distribution. Lufthansa announced it would enable New Distribution Capability-enabled connections to corporate clients, agents and others while slapping a surcharge on bookings through global distribution systems, with which it also ended full-content agreements. Much speculation ensued over whether rivals would follow suit when their GDS deals came up for renewal in 2017. In the end, British Airways, Iberia and Air France-KLM did. In Europe, following Lufthansa's lead, the die for permanent distribution change is now cast.Meanwhile, the strategic focus in 2017 for Carsten Spohr, a licensed professional pilot and Lufthansa boss since 2014, has been making his aviation behemoth even bigger. The opportunity was created by the weakness of competitors: Airberlin, Germany's second-largest airline, went bust and Alitalia is throwing in the towel after two decades of crisis. Lufthansa has bid €250 million to acquire Alitalia, giving Lufthansa another long-haul hub in Rome, and has agreed to buy a large chunk of Airberlin, which would give it a near-monopoly on the 100-plus routes on which the two overlapped.German travel managers are deeply unhappy, fearing they will pay more if power is concentrated so heavily with one supplier. In fact, there are allegations those fears already have been realized. Germany's Federal Cartel Office, which has had to slap Lufthansa down in the past, is investigating a sharp domestic fare rise from the airline following Airberlin's cessation of service.European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager has expressed concern about the "risk of a very strong limitation on competition on quite a number of routes" and is poised to intervene. Expect a major tussle in 2018.