German national carrier, Lufthansa, has confirmed that its realigned low-fare leisure brand, Eurowings, will open a new base in the Austrian capital, Vienna, from autumn 2015. The new operation will support the Lufthansa Group strategy to change its offering in price-sensitive markets to support its mainline operations, including those of wholly-owned subsidiary, Austrian Airlines.
According to the German flag carrier, following “close consultation with Austrian Airlines and at the carrier’s own request,” Eurowings will initially station two Airbus A320s at Vienna International Airport to offer point-to-point connections on European routes, but could grow the fleet and network in the coming years.
Although the aircraft will fly under the Eurowings brand, it is planned for them to be staffed with crews from Austrian Airlines. This partnership is possible following the new collective agreement, Austrian reached with its 900 pilots and 2,300 flight attendants in December 2014 offering additional prospects.
“I am delighted that Vienna will be the first base for the new Eurowings outside Germany. It means that we will be able to further strengthen the base after the restructuring phase, and the new flights for leisure travellers and price-conscious customers will complement our existing range perfectly,” says Jaan Albrecht, chief executive officer, Austrian Airlines.
Lufthansa has relaunched the Eurowings brand through its Wings project to enter new markets in the price-sensitive leisure travel sector and safeguard its leading position in its home markets of Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Belgium.
“With the new Eurowings, we are ramping up our offensive in Vienna as well and taking on our low-cost competitors,” said Oliver Wagner, manager of the Wings project at Lufthansa and managing director of Germanwings.
The New Eurowings business will sit alongside Germanwings under the Lufthansa Group umbrella and its reinvention follows the successful transfer of Lufthansa’s non-hub routes to Germanwings. This programme of transferring all Lufthansa routes not serving its Frankfurt and Munich hubs was completed in early January 2015.
In an initial step, the two already-existing airlines Germanwings and Eurowings will continue to perform their flight operations with their current networks and crews. For the new European operations the present Eurowings fleet, which consists of 23 Bombardier CRJ900 jets, will be replaced with up to 23 Airbus A320s between February 2015 and March 2017. Ten new A320s have been ordered, while up to 13 further A320s will be reassigned to Eurowings from existing orders held by the Lufthansa Group.
This will give the New Eurowings a standardised fleet of Airbus A320 aircraft by the end of 2017, by which time further routes will also be added to the its network. The first aircraft to display the new Eurowings branding entered service on February 1, 2015 on the Hamburg – Prague route.