Lufthansa to phase in new budget flights

Details are beginning to emerge of how Lufthansa’s budget brand will evolve.

In September the carrier announced it would create a low-cost offering to operate non-hub domestic and European routes (see online news September 19), and it is now confirmed that Cologne-based Germanwings (the low-cost subsidiary of Lufthansa) will take over all its parent’s non-hub routes in stages.

According to a Germanwings spokesman, the phased operation will start in January. It will extend over several months.

It means that all Lufthansa flights which do not serve its twin hubs of either Frankfurt or Munich will be taken over by Germanwings which will provide a budget airline style of service.

Typical international services to be transferred would include Lufthansa’s flights from London Heathrow, Birmingham and Manchester to Berlin Tegel, London Heathrow to Hamburg, Dusseldorf to Milan and Hamburg to Vienna.

What will confuse passengers is that Lufthansa is continuing to take bookings on all these routes at its regular prices.

As yet, there is no indication on when, or even if, these non-hub routes will be switched to Germanwings.

So passengers who believe they are booking a full-service airline might eventually find themselves flying on a different plane with different seats and without a proper business cabin. They may also have to pay extra for baggage check and catering. 

The first route to be officially announced under the new arrangement is Lufthansa’s domestic Nuremberg to Hamburg service. From March 31, this route will be taken over by Germanwings. Passengers will find themselves aboard a one-class 150-seater A319 instead of the plane Lufthansa currently operates, namely a two-class 90-seater Canadair commuter jet.

Bookings for the Nuremberg to Hamburg route open tomorrow.

According to a translated statement from Nuremberg airport, “The background to this route is the successive transfer from the portfolio of parent company Lufthansa to Germanwings. The latter is a quality carrier amongst the low-cost airlines. Tickets are sold for a low price with hand baggage [but not checked baggage] and no onboard catering.

“Passengers [taking the cheapest tariff tiers] can book drinks and snacks at extra cost along with seats offering extra legroom. Therefore Germanwings’ passengers can tailor the product to their individual needs.”

More details of the route swaps, tariffs and other details including those relating to FFPs are expected to be revealed at a press conference in Cologne on December 6 at which Business Traveller will be present.

For more information go to

Report by Alex McWhirter

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  • I am a bit surprised to read “proper business cabin” with Lufthansa in Europe. They do not have proper business seating in Europe.

    All they do is leave the middle seat empty. And serve a bit more of a meal.

    Except for that, it is the same, hard, ultralight seat as in Economy. They don’t even have more legroom.

    Those seats that got a reputation for being very uncomfortable.

  • Frankly I am uninterested in flying GermanWings because unlike Lufthansa, I can’t earn Star Alliance status credits on non-LH frequent flyer programmes, and can’t use lounges with Star Alliance Gold status.

    Given I have BA Silver status I’ll just fly BA instead, which for the Berlin route (which I would have thought was a more business oriented route compared to some others).

    This is a big negative.

  • Hello meilenschwund,

    The reference to “proper business cabin” concerned the entire and diverse Lufthansa fleet. Therefore the business class configuration will vary depending on plane type. That is why I said “might.”

    I believe the difference in standards will be felt on those routes currently operated by commuter jets. That is because on these smaller planes, Lufthansa adopts a 1-1 configuration for its business cabin.

    Taking the Nuremberg-Hamburg route as the example I gave, it would mean that instead of a business class passenger enjoying 1-1 seating (the adjacent seat is guaranteed unsold which allows the passenger more privacy), he or she will now have to accept the denser 3-3 layout (with no guaranteed middle seat unsold) on a Germanwings A319.”

    Alex McWhirter

  • Up to now: Germanwings is flying routes out of LHR already for months. You can book either via Germanwings or Lufthansa websites.

    Germanwings has a so called ‘best seat’. If you book via the Lufthansa site you get the best seat, a free piece of baggage and on board a drink and a (sweet or savoury) snack or sandwich. The ‘best seat’ is the front 10 rows. If you book Germanwings you sit on row 11 or further back and have to pay for snack/drink.

    The Germanwings A319 are light and airy and look clean and new. Much better than the older B737 that LH had on the route before. The staff is young though, my flight last week had a 20 year old purser, I guess the pilot was 23 and the captain 25. Did the route some 4 times already since april and always had a pleasant experience !!

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