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Lufthansa to phase in new budget flights

26 Nov 2012 by BusinessTraveller

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 lufthansa.com 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 lufthansa.com.

Report by Alex McWhirter

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