Lufthansa is to transfer as many as 30 aircraft to Germanwings under plans to bring its non-hub short-haul services together under one operation which will carry the low-cost carrier's brand.
The Star Alliance carrier last month said it was bringing together all its short-haul point-to-point services not operated through its Frankfurt and Munich hubs into Germanwings as part of efforts to tackle profitability at the group, but no decision had been taken on the branding for the airline.
This morning Lufthansa says these flights will from next year operate under the Germawnings brand. "These services will be repositioned as a quality product - reasonably priced but not cheap - in the low-cost segment in an upgraded 'new' Germanwings," the German carrier says. This will leave Lufthansa free to focus on its hub and long-haul operations, covering all flights out of Frankfurt and Munich, and long-haul services out of Dusseldorf.
Lufthansa says up to 30 aircraft serving point-to-point routes will be transferred to Germanwings from January 2013. Lufthansa's regional unit Eurowings will continue to operate as an independent subsidiary on regional routes, but it will operate on behalf of Germanwings.
Lufthansa group chairman and chief executive Christoph Franz says: "We are establishing an important precondition for restoring our European flight operations to profitability. With an enhanced brand identity and a corresponding product, Germanwings will combine all our point-to-point operations outside our hubs in a separate company."
But he adds: "In order to achieve sustained success, it is important that we together with the unions and employee representatives can maintain the cost-effectiveness of Germanwings operations."
Management of Germanwings, under chief executive Thomas Winkelmann, will remain unchanged. Further details of the full Germanwings network and 'fine-tuning' of the brand identity will presented in December.
Head of Lufthansa's passenger airline business, Carsten Spohr, says Germanwings will be positioned as "an attractive quality provider" in the low-cost segment. "Our 'new' Germanwings will convince not only leisure travellers but also business travellers thanks to its innovative, high-quality product and brand concept plus its extensive flight schedule, which will complement Lufthansa's global route network," he says.
Germanwings, launched a decade ago as a low-cost unit of Eurowings, has positioned itself in the hybrid section of the budget segment. It operates a fleet of 32 Airbus A319s out of bases in Berlin Schonefeld, Cologne, Dortmund, Hamburg, Hannover and Stuttgart. It carried 7.5 million passenger in 2011, and posted an operating loss of $73 million on revenues of $960 million.