In my last post I touched on the fact that LH is planning to launch two LCC programs over the next year. In that post I talked about the intercontinental version and a potential partnership with Turkish. In this post, I’ll look more closely at what an intra-European LCC may look like.
It’s no secret that the Lufthansa Group is being bombarded by substantial competition from literally dozens of Low Cost Carrier (LCC) airlines in Europe. Rather than being stubborn and attempting to force ‘their will’ on the European airline passenger, LH is looking to adapt and diversify their portfolio in an attempt to deliver options that would be suitable for any passenger. To that end, they have decided to wade into the LCC market place with a large scale rollout.
WINGS is Lufthansa’s answer to the LCC market place and beginning in the Spring of 2015 we’ll begin to see WINGS become reality. As planned, it will be based on the current Germanwings concept that is currently based in Germany. Lufthansa will use and rebrand its Eurowings division and use it as WINGS’ foundation as it builds its hub network and Germanwings will become part of the WINGS network. Plans call for WINGS to be positioned in each of Lufthansa Group’s main European hubs including Frankfurt, Munich, Vienna, Brussels and Zurich and will compliment the LH mainline airlines operating out of these hubs.
The first WINGS hub is planned to open at Basel Airport in Switzerland and begin operations in Spring 2015 with 2-4 A320 aircraft based there.
To accomplish this undertaking several changes will take place in the Germanwings and Eurowings fleets. To meet expected demand, Germanwings will have up to another 60 Airbus narrow body aircraft added to fleet. For Eurowings, their fleet of Bombardier CRJ aircraft will be replaced by Airbus A320 aircraft and may grow to a fleet as large as 23 planes. The move to replace the CRJs is due largely to the fact that Lufthansa has considerable cost and operating efficiencies.
We will no doubt see WINGS become a bigger and bigger part of Lufthansa’s vernacular over the next year as we get closer to the rollout. Hopefully this solution will finally be the answer LH has been looking for when dealing with the LCC marketplace.