MIAMI — Lufthansa’s supervisory board has given the green light to a plan to get into the low-cost carrier game under a new unit it calls the “new” Eurowings brand. The German flag carrier will use the Eurowings and Germanwings brands to provide low-cost short- and long-haul flights starting at the end of 2015.
Initially, Germanwings and Eurowings will continue to offer flights under their current networks and crews, under the umbrella of new Eurowings brand. For the new European operations, the current Eurowings fleet of 23 Bombardier CRJ900s will be replaced with up to 23 Airbus A320s between February 2015 and March 2017.
The board approved an order of 10 new A320s for the new Eurowings, with plans for up to another 13 of the type being reassigned to Eurowings from existing orders. With this move, the carrier will have an all-A320 fleet by the end of 2017.
To handle long-haul services under the Eurowings brand, Lufthansa has signed a letter of intent with SunExpress, its joint venture with Turkish Airlines, starting at the end of 2015, using the latter’s cockpit and cabin crews on three A330-200s.
The airline will fly from Europe to points including Florida, Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean. The fleet will eventually expand to seven A330s in the next few years based at Cologne/Bonn Airport. The new Eurowings concept will take a page from Germanwings by offering passengers ‘Best’, ‘Basic’ and ‘Smart’ air fares.
The ‘New Eurowings’ is a response to one of the major challenges confronting Europe’s airline industry,” said Carsten Spohr, chairman and CEO of Lufthansa’s executive board, in a statement.
“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. 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.”
Focus on Premium Quality
The year 2015 has been dubbed the year of ‘New Lufthansa Premium Quality’ by the German flag carrier’s executive board. Airlines under Deutsche Lufthansa Group — Austrian Airlines and Swiss — can expect further fleet renewals, along with major upgrades to aircraft cabins that will offer what it calls five-star inflight travel comfort.
Lufthansa is expected to complete an upgrade of the first class cabin in its long-haul fleet in the first quarter. In the second quarter, the airline will complete improvements on its new business class. And in the third quarter, the carrier will offer its new Premium Economy service on all of its intercontinental aircraft. Lufthansa will also take on two more Airbus A380s, four new Boeing 747-8s and 10 short- and medium-haul Airbus A320 family of aircraft.