Eurowings Adds 8 Berlin Routes to Exploit EasyJet and Ryanair Cutting Flights
Eurowings is swooping in in Berlin to pick up market share as its competitors EasyJet and Ryanair pullback.
The Lufthansa Group budget arm will double the number of aircraft it bases at Berlin Brandenburg Airport, to six Airbus A320 family planes from three, and add at least eight new routes next summer, Eurowings said Monday. New nonstop routes include Alicante, Antalya, Copenhagen, Gothenburg, Helsinki, Larnaca, Malaga, and Rhodes.
“Others are pulling back, we are building up,” Eurowings CEO Jens Bischof said. “Berlin is and remains an absolute tourist magnet and one of the most exciting metropolises in Europe … So it’s only logical for us as a German airline to expand our presence and bring more Eurowings to the capital.”
Bischof was referring to cuts made by Berlin’s two largest airlines: EasyJet and Ryanair. The former began shrinking in the German capital in May citing a slower-than-expected travel recovery and high airport fees. And the latter cut its winter schedule in September due to high fees.
Eurowings will operate 90 percent more seats in the second quarter of next year than it did this year, according to Diio by Cirium schedules. The second quarter includes the first three months — April, May, and June — of the summer 2023 schedule. EasyJet seats will be down 25 percent and Ryanair 5 percent. However, second quarter schedules are not fully set and subject to change.
If current schedules hold — which is unlikely — Eurowings will be the fourth largest at Berlin Brandenburg in the second quarter behind EasyJet, Ryanair, and its parent Lufthansa, Diio shows.
Berlin boasted nearly 4.4 million visitors during the first six months of the year, according to Visit Berlin data. Of those, roughly 1.4 million were foreigners. However, visitor numbers were down 35 percent compared to 2019; data for the summer is not yet available.
Passenger numbers at Brandenburg airport had recovered to about 65 percent of 2019, or 2.1 million people, in October, according to airport data. That represented a nearly 2 point improvement over September.
The popularity of Berlin among tourists has long made the market popular with discount airlines, like EasyJet and Ryanair. Network carriers, for example Lufthansa, have long struggled to generate the higher yields they need to support service beyond flights to their hubs and select key business markets. Air Berlin tried — and failed — to turn the city into a hub for both leisure and business travelers prior to its closure in 2017.
The market shifts in Berlin come amid broader industry changes in Europe. Ryanair and Wizz Air, two of the continent’s largest budget brands, are in expansion mode and rapidly grabbing share in key markets, particularly in Southern Europe. EasyJet is growing in places like Lisbon where it recently acquired slots divested by TAP Air Portugal. And consolidation is top of mind for many with Air Europa, ITA Airways, and TAP in play with the three big groups, Air France-KLM, International Airlines Group, and the Lufthansa Group.
Of Eurowings’ eight new Berlin routes, it faces competition in all of the markets except Gothenburg, Diio shows. EasyJet ended Berlin-Gothenburg flights in October. The UK-based discounter has also ended Helsinki flights, though Finnair continues to operate the route.
Eurowings plans to operate up to 30 routes from Berlin next summer, it said. That means another to-be-determined eight new routes could be coming given its service to 14 destinations during the summer of 2022.Subscribe Now to Airline Weekly