The supervisory board of Deutsche Lufthansa AG ‒ also known as Lufthansa Group ‒ has formally given the go-ahead for a new low-cost ‘Wings’ operation, the creation of which was suggested by the group’s executive board at a December 3 meeting.
As part of the go-ahead decision, Lufthansa Group’s supervisory board has approved the lease of up to seven Airbus A330-200 widebodies for the new low-cost operation’s intercontinental routes. The operation will also operate up to 23 Airbus A320 single-aisle jets.
The supervisory board has also approved the development of the ‘Eurowings’ concept. Under this concept, and within an umbrella framework, Lufthansa Group’s Eurowings and Germanwings airlines will develop additional flight operations in Europe.
They will also will seek to acquire new customers by offering quality service products at attractive prices in the form of low-cost short- and long-haul air services, starting at the end of 2015.
These new services will be aimed primarily at private travelers. According to Lufthansa Group, in the longer term these services will help the Lufthansa Group carriers secure their strong positions in the point-to-point travel segment in their home markets of Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Belgium.
“The ‘New Eurowings’ is our response to one of the major challenges confronting Europe’s airline industry,” explains Carsten Spohr, Lufthansa Group’s CEO. “For several years now we’ve been facing fierce competition from the rapidly-growing low-cost carriers in the point-to-point travel segment, not only in Germany but throughout Europe, too.”
Adds Spohr: “And we are sure to see this competition extend more and more to the long-haul travel segment in the years ahead. Our ‘New Eurowings’ is our innovative response, which will enable us to fashion our own markets here.”
“Innovative concepts with substantially lower costs combined with the strengths, skills and expertise of the Lufthansa Group: that’s our recipe for success,” says Spohr. “And our new ‘New Eurowings’ product will offer both outstanding value for money and the strongest quality, reliability and safety credentials.”
The ‘New Eurowings’ concept follows the transfer of Lufthansa’s non-hub routes to Lufthansa Group subsidiary Germanwings. The transfer of all Lufthansa routes not serving Lufthansa’s Frankfurt and Munich hubs should be complete by early January, according to Lufthansa Group.
As a first step, existing carriers Germanwings and Eurowings will continue to operate their current networks with their current crews, under the umbrella of the new concept.
For its new European operations, the current Eurowings fleet of 23 Bombardier CRJ900 regional jets will be replaced by up to 23 Airbus A320 mainline jets between February 2015 and March 2017.
Lufthansa Group has already ordered 10 new A320s for Eurowings and will re-assign up to 13 additional A320s from existing orders held by the group. This will give the ‘New Eurowings’ a standardized fleet of Airbus A320 jets by the end of 2017.
Further routes, operated from a new Eurowings base outside Germany, will be added to the Eurowings network in the course of 2015, the group says.
In addition to its European network, the ‘New Eurowings’ will also add long-haul services to its low-fare network from the end of 2015, in collaboration with German-Turkish airline SunExpress.
Lufthansa Group has signed a letter of intent with SunExpress, a joint venture between Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines, under which Eurowings’ intercontinental services will be flown under the air operator’s certificate of SunExpress Deutschland and with SunExpress Deutschland cockpit and cabin crews.
The first intercontinental destinations to be served will include points in Florida, Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean. The new flights will be operated by three leased Airbus A330-200 widebodies, each fitted with 310 seats.
The Eurowings long-haul fleet will gradually be expanded to up to seven A330-200s over the next few years, according to Lufthansa Group.
As with the existing Germanwings concept, the new Eurowings long-haul servvice products will offer customers a choice of ‘Best’, ‘Basic’ and ‘Smart’ fares. The operation will not be Lufthansa-branded.
The new long-haul fleet will initially be based at Cologne Bonn Airport. Cologne will also be the home of the Wings carriers’ commercial management operations.