Lufthansa Budget Arm Eurowings Makes Berlin Play
Eurowings will open a new base in Berlin on April 1, as the Lufthansa Group aims to capture the expected return of leisure travel this summer.
Eurowings will base three Airbus A320s at the new Berlin Brandenburg airport initially, the carrier said last week. The aircraft will initially support new flights between Berlin and Cologne, Düsseldorf and Stuttgart. The routes complement Eurowings existing service to eight mostly-leisure oriented destinations around the Mediterranean, as well as Lufthansa’s service to Frankfurt and Munich.
In a statement, Eurowings CEO Jens Bischof described the expansion as both meeting leisure demand and filling the gap left by other carriers who retrenched during the crisis. However, few airlines have permanently pulled out of Berlin and market leaders, EasyJet and Ryanair, so far plan robust schedules this year, Cirium data shows. Eurowings’ move appears more of an attempt by Lufthansa to capture some of the market ceded to the two foreign discounters following the collapse of Air Berlin in 2017, then a response to changing competition.
In 2019, EasyJet had a 32 percent share of Berlin seats followed by Ryanair with a 15 percent share, according to Cirium. Lufthansa and Eurowings had 10 percent and nine percent seat shares, respectively.
Separately, the vacuum left by Norwegian Air‘s restructuring is not the only space airlines are racing to fill in Europe. Eurowings plans its first service connecting the popular Mediterranean hotspot Palma de Mallorca with the UK this summer, a market previously served by defunct Thomas Cook. The German airline will offer new service between Mallorca and both Birmingham and Manchester from the end of May with additional holiday-focused routes under consideration.
- When the going gets tough, focus on home? Alaska Airlines was not kidding when it said it would focus growth on its Pacific Northwest home. A week after unveiling four new routes to Montana, the carrier is returning to both Idaho Falls and Redding, Calif., after a decade-plus hiatus with new nonstop flights from Seattle on de Havilland Dash 8-400s from June 17. Alaska will also add service between Boise and both Austin and Chicago O’Hare on Embraer E175s the same day.
- Don’t call it a “focus city,” but American Airlines is adding 10 new routes from Austin for a total of 20 this summer. The carrier will connect Austin and Las Vegas, Nashville, New Orleans and Orlando in May; Tampa in June; Raleigh-Durham in July; and Washington Dulles in August. Seasonal flights between Austin and Aspen, Destin-Fort Walton Beach and Los Cabos will operate from June through September.
- Romania’s Blue Air plans new connections of Milan’s convenient Linate airport. The carrier will launch up to daily Milan-Bucharest Otopeni service on March 28, and twice-weekly Milan-Cluj Napoca service on June 1. The Bucharest-Linate flight complements Blue Air’s existing service to Milan’s Malpensa airport.
- Prepping for its eventual exit from Chapter 11 bankruptcy, LATAM Airlines has its eye on the Colombian market for future expansion. The country where LATAM is already number two is a “great opportunity” for the airline, said CEO Roberto Alvo at a CAPA conference last week. Any Colombia growth would further pit LATAM against competitor Avianca, which is also restructuring under Chapter 11. The crisis has forced both airlines to shut subsidiaries, LATAM its Argentinian unit and Avianca its Peruvian operation.
- As United Airlines adds new bus connections, Lufthansa is swapping a plane for a train under an expanded partnership with Deutsche Bahn. New plane-to-train, and vice versa, connections to Hamburg and Munich in Frankfurt begin in July, and to Berlin, Bremen, and Münster in December. In addition, Deutsche Bahn will add new “Sprinter” service between the Frankfurt Airport and both Munich and Nuremberg in December. Sprinter trains will run nonstop and are timed to connect with the airline’s flights.
- What do Bellingham, Wash., Eugene, Ore., and Myrtle Beach, S.C., all have in common? New Southwest Airlines flights this year. The Dallas-based carrier’s growth tear continues with the addition of its 15th, 16th and 17th new destinations since Covid-19 hit the U.S. market a year ago. Southwest will unveil its new Bellingham, Eugene and Myrtle Beach routes at a later date with plans for some service to begin by the summer.
- Spirit Airlines is making no small plans as it recovers to pre-pandemic capacity this summer. with Pensacola, Fla., and St. Louis joining its map, plus new nonstops from New York’s LaGuardia airport. The discounter will connect Pensacola to Austin, Columbus, Dallas/Fort Worth, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Louisville and St. Louis from June 10 and 11. St. Louis flights to Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Orlando begin May 27. The new destinations join Louisville and Milwaukee where Spirit begins flights in May and June, respectively.
Spirit is also taking advantage of the loophole in LaGuardia’s 1,500-mile perimeter to add Saturday-only flights to San Juan on April 17, and Los Angeles on June 12. In addition, the airline will add a daily LaGuardia-Nashville flight on May 5. The expansion means Spirit will begin using two gates in Terminal A, also known as the Marine Air Terminal, at the airport where it hopes to eventually consolidate its operations.
— Edward Russell