German low-cost carrier Eurowings has outlined how it will ramp-up its operations over the coming months.
The airline owned by the Lufthansa Group is currently only flying about 20 of its aircraft. This number is set to rapidly grow as Germany is expected to end its lockdown and reduce travel restrictions thanks to falling numbers of Covid-19 infections.
Coming out of what was likely the toughest part of the global pandemic, Eurowings let go of 25% of its total employees, and even 30% of management positions. Two office locations were dropped. Right now, the company has almost 3000 employees.
In a press conference on Wednesday noon, Eurowings CEO Jens Bischof made optimistic remarks about the airline’s return to ‘the new normal’. He says progress in vaccinating and testing is crucial for the reversal of travel restrictions and the return of travellers. Although the airline will not introduce a vaccination requirement for its staff or passengers, he notes that some destination countries may soon require passengers and crew to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
The CEO explained his company’s plans to return to up to 70% of its 2019 operations in Summer 2021. Eurowings will more than double its active fleet from 20 to 45 aircraft by Easter (early-April), and expects to operate 75 to 80 planes over the Summer holiday season. While the carrier seems to focus more on leisure flights, it will continue to offer various domestic routes, as well as international business destinations.
At the beginning of the Coronavirus crisis, Eurowings dropped all of its wet-leaseing agreements with other companies, including TUI fly, Luftfahrtgesellschaft Walter and Lufthansa-owned Germanwings. Long-haul flights operated by SunExpress Germany and Brussels Airlines were also suspended. As a result, Eurowings became an all-Airbus A320 family operator.
Switching to a more uniform fleet is a long-term advantage for the airline, Bischof said. He told International Flight Network that the company currently does not plan on re-adding any smaller aircraft types outside of the A320 family to its fleet. In 2022, Eurowings is due to receive its first five Airbus A320neo planes.
New base at BER
On Monday, Eurowings announced that it will return to stationing aircraft in Berlin. It will primarily offer domestic and leisure flights using three airplanes, starting April 1st.
The airline used to have a base with four aircraft at now-closed Berlin Tegel Airport. When the new Berlin Brandenburg Airport opened in October of last year, it initially did not base any aircraft there, leaving most of the market during the pandemic to Easyjet, its largest competitor in the German capital.
The Lufthansa Group claims to once again become the largest airline in Berlin. However, data by German aviation news site aeroTelegraph shows that Easyjet continues to be number one with a market share of almost 27%, based on the number of total seats offered for the upcoming 2021 summer season.
Instead of Eurowings returning to its old scheme for offering low-cost flights to long-haul destinations, Lufthansa Group has instead opted to create a new separate company to operate wide-body aircraft. The new leisure-focused airline will be called Eurowings Discover and based at Lufthansa hubs Frankfurt and Munich. Although building on the low-cost brand, Eurowings Discover will be its own long-haul airline, with operations unrelated to short- and medium-haul carrier Eurowings.
Eurowings Discover will start in Summer 2021 with four Airbus A330 aircraft and about 350 employees to a number of intercontinental leisure destinations, primarily in North America, the Caribbean and Africa. The airline will offer Business Class and Premium Economy in addition to regular Economy.
Jakob Wert is an aviation journalist from Germany. He built up the website IFN.news and is the Editor-In-Chief of International Flight Network.