The “new” Germanwings launches on January 1, but customers will not see changes to the product or livery until July 1 next year.
The carrier will operate all non-hub flights (Lufthansa will continue to operate those flights departing Frankfurt and Munich) throughout Europe on behalf of Lufthansa, offering three different products: Basic, Smart and Best.
Basic is the low-cost model fare and offers a seat only with prices starting from €33 one way, with food and hold luggage available to be purchased seperately.
The Smart fare offers preferable seating from rows four to 11 with a larger seat pitch of 32 inches and a complimentary snack, non-alcoholic drink and hold bag of up to 23kg.
Best is the full service option from Germanwings and includes preferred seating in rows 1-3 with the middle seat left unsold, as is the case with full fare Lufthansa short-haul services. A reserved hand luggage compartment is available to Best customers, and two hold bags of up to 23kg each can be checked in. Other benefits include priority check-in and boarding as well as fast lane security and lounge access, a la carte catering, flexible rebooking and ticket cancellations.
Passengers travelling with Germanwings will be able to earn either Boomerang or Miles and More frequent flyer points and passengers in the Best fare category will earn double miles, including Honor Circle.
The new Germanwings will be amalgamated with Lufthansa on January 1, with customers being able to experience the new products from July 1, 2013, from which point aircraft in the Lufthansa fleet due to join the “new Germanwings” will also be gradually converted and transferred.
Lufthansa has earmarked €30 million towards the rebranding effort. This includes repainting aircraft with a new livery, which incorporates the yellow of Lufthansa with the purple of Germanwings, and making adjustments to some of the seating products to create a homogenised onboard product across the Germanwings fleet. The rebranding process is expected to be completed by March 2014.
Star Alliance status holders should note that Germanwings is not expected to join the alliance in any form.
This should not be an issue for hub services linking with Asia and the US through Munich and Frankfurt as these will remain full service Lufthansa, so Star Alliance privileges will be maintained on feeder services.
However as our consumer editor Alex McWhirter pointed out in his piece last week, those Star Alliance passengers subsequently taking flights outside of the carrier’s hubs may find their status privileges are not valid.
Christoph Franz, chairman of the executive board at Lufthansa says that market pressures from low-cost carriers, aggressive state owned carriers and the record high price of kerosene left Lufthansa with only two strategic options for its non-hub European services.
One was to abandon the regions and concentrate on hub services. Franz joked that the competition, namely British Airways, has gone down this route, and might now be called “Heathrow Airways“.
Instead Lufthansa has decided to concentrate on the offering for its dense, non-hub network and the transfer over to a low-cost model with Germanwings was the decided solution.
“With the ‘new Germanwings’ we are going on the offensive in respect of point-to-point connections“ says Franz. “We have developed a convincing array of products and have many years of experience in the low-cost and premium segments."
Around 1,000 Lufthansa staff are expected to transfer over to Germanwings in the new year to support the changes to the carrier.
For more information visit germanwings.com.
Report by Scott Carey