Eurowings Discover…s a Way to Provide the Complexity Lufthansa Craves

There is nothing Lufthansa Group loves more than an overly-complex airline plan. This has happened time and time again where Lufthansa invents new sub-brands that grow in all kinds of weird ways only to be shuttered down the line. To the surprise of no-one, the new Eurowings Discover is following in the footsteps of its predecessors. Shall we bet how long it’ll be before it gets scrapped or repurposed?

I wrote about the confusing make-up of Lufthansa Group subsidiaries back in February. The airline had been on a simplification kick. It eliminated SunExpress Deutschland, kicked Brussels out of the Eurowings group of airlines into the regular legacy airline group where it belongs, and shuttered several operating airlines that flew under the Eurowings name. That was all good, but then it decided to start a new airline, Eurowings Discover.

The idea behind Eurowings Discover was to create a long-haul, low-cost operator that would complement Lufthansa itself in Frankfurt and Munich. It was built to be a long-haul airline that would serve leisure markets in a similar way to what Edelweiss does for SWISS. This all seemed rather strange since Eurowings Discover would not be related to Eurowings — the long-lived low-cost operator that covers all the other German cities — despite sharing a similar name. Oh, and Lufthansa had already tried something just like this TWICE in the last few years without success.

The first attempt, codenamed Jump, ended up flying under the Lufthansa brand with A340s operated by lower-cost subsidiary Lufthansa Cityline. This looked like a pure leisure play, and Lufthansa justified doing an end run around labor because Jump would only fly to places with low revenues that needed lower costs to survive. Labor certainly did not like that, and after one of many restructurings, the A340s were retired, and Cityline went back to being a regional carrier.

When Jump was coming out, Eurowings, uh, Don’t Discover? Whatever… Eurowings the First… had gotten into long-haul flying as well. That Eurowings was meant to take over all the non-Frankfurt and Munich long-haul hub flying for Lufthansa as a low-cost operator. It started that way with flights from places like Cologne to Cuban beaches. But then, Lufthansa blurred the lines as usual. In April 2018, it got into Munich with flights to Cancun, Las Vegas, and Mauritius. Then in October 2019, it moved into Frankfurt with flights to Bangkok, Barbados, Las Vegas, Mauritius, and Windhoek. It was actually STILL flying Windhoek until recently when the transition began.

In this transition, we’ll see Eurowings Discover move in with A330s that I assume will probably just be moved over from Eurowings Uno. We now also have an idea of a long-haul plan. There will be 11 A330s by next summer. The current schedule plan is as follows:

  • Frankfurt – Mombasa – Zanzibar 2x weekly begins July 24 (inaugural flight)
  • Frankfurt – Punta Cana 3x weekly and Windhoek 5x weekly begins in August
  • Frankfurt – Las Vegas and Mauritius both 3x weekly begins in October
  • Frankfurt – Bridgetown, Montego Bay, and Varadero each 3x weekly begins in winter 2021
  • Frankfurt – Fort Myers and Panama City (Panama) both 3x weekly begins in March 2022
  • Munich – Cancún, Las Vegas, and Punta Cana each 2x weekly begins in March 2022
  • Frankfurt – Salt Lake City 3x weekly begins in May 2022
  • Frankfurt – Kilimanjaro 2x weekly begins in June 2022

A lot of these routes should look familiar since they’ve been flown by Lufthansa’s previous attempts at a low-cost operation. Again, this looks like an end run around labor just to get lower costs. Third time’s a charm?

But wait, there’s more.

This was going to originally be simply a long-haul play, but guess what? Now it’s also going to have 10 A320s by next summer. And why? Well, apparently it’s for a few reasons that make no sense at all.

First, these airplanes will begin operating for Air Dolomiti under a wet lease this month. The release says this will be done “in order to gradually ramp up operations and ensure a smooth start on long-haul routes.” In November, the A320s get something else to do. They will start flying to the Canary Islands, Egypt, and Morocco — presumably from Frankfurt and/or Munich — under the Discover name.

The question that keeps coming to mind is… why? Why couldn’t Eurowings One do this? For the Air Dolomiti flying, there’s no good reason. For the Canary Islands and all that, it sounds like it comes down to reservations systems, or something like that.

Eurowings the Predecessor is trying oh so hard to be a cool low-cost carrier, so it is using Navitaire and doesn’t really interface well with Lufthansa. If it’s truly isolated flying point-to-point routes that don’t touch Frankfurt and Munich, that doesn’t really matter… except that it does touch Munich from 6 cities and Frankfurt from 1 this summer (it’s Pristina, if you’re curious).

Airline Weekly quotes Lufthansa Group CEO Carsten Spohr as saying, “Eurowings Discover is in the Amadeus world [and] fully integrated into our commercial model here in Frankfurt and in Munich, like Edelweiss is in Zurich, and complementing our network.”

So ultimately this is one big distribution play sitting on top of a labor end-run, I guess. It just feels like Lufthansa is trying way too hard here and making justifications that end up creating this cobbled-together monster of an airline before it even starts flying.

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