Austrian Airlines on March 7 introduced the first wet-leased Air Berlin A320 into service for Lufthansa Group. The aircraft, D-ABZA, flew in Austrian colors from Vienna to Skopje. D-ABZC entered service for OS in March 8.
D-ABZA and D-ABZC are the first 2 of 5 Air Berlin aircraft that will operate for Austrian. Under the wet-lease agreement, the aircraft will carry OS colors, however the crew that you will see aboard the plane will be dressed in their Air Berlin uniforms since technically the employees are on lease from Air Berlin.
D-ABZA shows off her new Austrian Colors. Photo courtesy of Austrian Airlines.
This opportunity for Austrian to expand their fleet and reach comes after Lufthansa agreed with Air Berlin to sublet 40 Air Berlin aircraft in order to help Air Berlin restructure their operations in an attempt to return to profitability. Air Berlin’s key investor, Etihad, was instrumental in working with LH to make the deal possible.
D-ABZC in her old AB colors…..
Most of the 40 aircraft will be painted in LH Group’s Eurowings livery and will be deployed on routes that EW normally serves along with a few new additions thanks to having an airport full of new planes to deploy.
Austrian provided an update today as it relates to the introduction of Wifi aboard their Airbus fleet.
As part of a broader roll out, Austrian now has outfitted 10 narrow-body Airbus aircraft with Wifi capability and has ‘turned on’ the ability in 4 of these aircraft for a trial period with passengers. During the trial period, passengers will be able to access the service for no charge.
As the service becomes available on the remaining 6 aircraft, Austrian will introduce a 3-tiered cost structure based on the kind of service that the passenger selects:
FlyNet Messaging will enable passengers to access their e-mail, chat services such as WhatsApp, iMessage, and others. FlyNet messaging will cost €3 per flight.
FlyNet Surf will include FlyNet Messaging as well as the ability to surf the internet via the passenger’s smart device or laptop. FlyNet Surf will cost €7 per flight.
FlyNet Stream will include ‘Messaging’ and ‘Surf’ as well as the ability to video to their device. FlyNet Stream will cost €12 per flight.
Austrian has made it its policy to prevent these services from allowing voice-calls to be made while using FlyNet. A very good idea if you ask me.
Austrian expects the trial period to end in the in next few weeks for the 4 aircraft currently being used to test the connectivity. Once that trial is complete, Austrian will ‘turn on’ the FlyNet service aboard the other 6 Airbus aircraft later this quarter.
I suspect that further announcements will be made relatively soon regarding the expansion of the service to the rest of the ‘OS’ fleet.
Austrian has updated their timetable to reflect a modest increase to their Spring / Summer timetable for this year.
Beginning on March 26, the following changes take effect:
Vienna – Hamburg will increase from 3x/day to 4x/day
Vienna – Milan Malpensa will increase from 4x/day to 6x/day
Vienna – Paris (CDG) will increase from 3x/day to 4x/day
Vienna – Stockholm will increase from 3x/day to 4x/day
Vienna – Zurich will increase from 4x/day to 7x/day
AUSTRIAN announced several major initiatives under yet another new plan, this time referred to as ‘Next Level Austrian’……
Beginning with the Summer 2018 timetable, Austrian will offer Premium Economy seating aboard their 777 and 767 long-haul aircraft. The retrofits will begin in the Winter of 2017 and should be completed by the end of Summer 2018. The seats will be similar to what we already see in Lufthansa’s Premium Economy. With the new seat will come improved leg room, better recline angles, and enhanced dining as compared to Economy. The 767 will have 18 Premium Economy seats installed and the 777 will have 24 Premium Economy Seats on board.
This comes at the expense of both Business and Economy seats: To make room for the Premium Economy cabin, Business and Economy class will both have a reduction in the number of overall seats. According to Austrian, the pricing will fall in between Economy and Business fares. I expect this to be very much like the Lufthansa Premium Economy product which has been very successful for the airline.
As part of the same announcement, OS has also indicated that their aircraft will begin an upgrade process that will see the installation of WiFi throughout the entire fleet. The first aircraft will be have Wifi available for passengers by mid-December of this year and the entire fleet will have connectivity by Summer 2017.
With the broadband system, passengers will be able to use their smart devices for any internet-based purpose including live streaming, email, etc. Per the existing policy using the service for phone calls will still not be allowed. Pricing is yet to be determined.
A month ago, Austrian filed plans to begin service between Vienna and Los Angeles, but provided few details. That has now been addressed with a news release from VIE earlier today.
Beginning April 10, OS will start flying between Vienna and Los Angeles 6 times a week using their 777 aircraft. Initially the route will be seasonal, operating only with the summer timetable. Flights will not take place on Sundays.
Flight OS81 will depart Vienna at 10a, arriving in Los Angeles at 1:30p (Same day).
Flight OS82 will depart Los Angeles at 3:05p, arriving in Vienna at 12:00p the following afternoon.
Reservations are now open for this flight, with fares starting as low as $800.