Lufthansa has formalised and launched its long-haul low-cost brand Eurowings Discover. Originally planned with 11 aircraft, Covid-19 has muted the launch which now focuses on repurposed Lufthansa planes. It brings the carrier in line with offerings offered by competitor groups such as IAG. Lunching with 8 known routes, the plan is to use repurposed A330 aircraft.
Ocean, The Brand That Never Was
In March 2019, the Lufthansa Group announced that starting in October 2019, Eurowings would introduce long-haul flights from Frankfurt Airport and further its Munich hub to expand Lufthansa’s tourist-oriented presence. But this came to a crashing halt a year later and by March 2020, in the wake of Covid-19, it abruptly ended its wet-leased contracts and absorbed the routes into the core Lufthansa brand.
As a way out, Lufthansa sees leisure routes as a significant part of the recovery process and will be returning short-haul flights back to Eurowings when commercially viable. But for Long-haul routes, the carrier wanted to spin off the low-cost Long-haul market into its own brand; opting for the name ‘Ocean’. This would have sent the group in the same direction as IAG’s LEVELS brand, but seeing how that airline is struggling by external factors, it was likely decided to keep the name familiar adding extra visibility to the livery.
However, depending on who you speak with, the alternative narrative was that Ocean was always a working title, a project name of sorts, and was always going to be named something familiar.
Two Separate Companies
It is important to note that Eurowings and Eurowings Discover will be operated as two separate brands. The paintwork is almost exactly that of Eurowings, supplemented by the word Discover in light blue.
While Eurowings is largely staying away from the Lufthansa hubs in Frankfurt and Munich, Eurowings Discover will start at precisely these airports, starting with Frankfurt.
Starting a new airline has caused a bit of controversy since it was announced. On one hand, by starting a new airline, Lufthansa and some of its partner airlines have ensured increased short-term job security, many of whom had previously lost their jobs at other airlines in the Lufthansa Group due to the pandemic. But conversely, the airline has been accused of offering deliberately offering weaker terms due to a lack of any collective agreements in place where they would have been had the Eurowings core brand been used.
Aircraft and Launch
Initially, operations are to start with a couple of Airbus A330’s from Frankfurt ( the exact number isn’t clear but expected to be three or four aircraft) – the targeted start date is June 2021 when the agreement between Lufthansa and Condor come to an end.
As the planes will be drawn from the Lufthansa fleet, it is not surprising they will be offering the same seating configuration to start. If you look at the marketing images, it would seem that Eurowings is just using reupholstered Lufthansa products and keeping Economy, Premium Economy, and Business products as is.
This will likely change as data on travel patterns and market demands get flushed out over time.
Eurowings Discover is expected to use code “4Y” as the IATA code, very similar to the now defunct Germanwings code “4U”, but highlighting that it is a separate operation to Eurowings’ ‘EY’ IATA code. But, 4Y is used by Airbus when they transport planes around.
Fun Fact – 4Y is a so-called controlled duplicate. IATA group smaller carriers together who would never intersect as the two-digit combination means less than 1200 combinations are available. Therefore, an asterisks is used to denote a controlled duplicate (should you ever see one).
Infact there are a couple around; the British cargo airline Coyne Airways and the South Korean low-cost airline Jeju Air share the Iata code ‘7C’. Kenyan charter operator Seven Four Eight Air Services and Hi Sky Europe share ‘4H’; and Canadian regional airline Pascan Aviation and the Spanish charter airline Privilege Style share ‘P6’.
The new airline’s destinations are mainly in the Caribbean, North America and Africa. These are not ‘new destinations’ per se as they were previously operated by Eurowings as well as offered by Condor.
The launch destinations are Punta Cana, Las Vegas, Anchorage, Mauritius, Windhoek, Mombasa, Zanzibar and Calgary
- Anchorage (ANC) is expected to see 3x a week service;
- Las Vegas (LAS) will see 4x a week service;
- Mauritius (MRU) will see 2x a week service;
- Malé (MLE) will see 2x a week service;
- Mombasa (MBA) will see 2x a week service;
- Punta Cana (PUJ) will see 4x a week service;
- Zanzibar (ZNZ) seems to be on hold
In the short term, flights are being offered to Italy and Spain on A330’s likely as a way to train staff up ready for the official launch.
Eurowings Discover and Condor Dispute
The launch is supposedly ruffling feathers both internally and externally. Internally, the Swiss holiday airline Edelweiss will reduce its long-haul fleet by two A330-300s – and possibly hand the aircraft over to Eurowings Discover.
Externally however, Eurowings Discovers launch routes and as a long-haul leisure carrier now, unsurprisingly, competes directly with Condor. Infact, this poses a double problem for Condor, Lufthansa is not only pulling the rug from under Condor by cutting its feeder flights at the Frankfurt hub, it is also competing with them head on. Condor is therefore taking the Lufthansa Group to court over this alleged breach. Condor filing with both the court of the European Union and Germans Federal Cartel Office claims that Lufthansa’s decision to terminate the contract is an abuse of its dominant position.
While not going into too much detail, Lufthansa’s argument is that it is not anti-competitive to want to focus and develop a market that it sees has significant growth potential and is part of its recovery post Covid-19. While this may be the case, the third perspective, that of the German public, is that the both airlines have received significant bailout from the government and is now effectively going head-to-head with public money instead of trying to grow together.