Lufthansa Italia at Milan Malpensa: 1st-ever ‘legacy’ base starts eight new routes

Depending on your definition of a ‘base’ and a ‘legacy carrier’, this week’s launch of services by Lufthansa Italia from Milan Malpensa to Barcelona and Paris represents the first time a European flag carrier has set up a foreign base. (And unlike the other cheap airlines there will be overnight stops in Paris and London.)
Image: Lufthansa Route Map
Click to enlarge

Low cost airlines such as easyJet, Ryanair, SkyEurope and Wizz Air have built overseas bases for many years but Europe’s legacy carriers have failed to embrace this opportunity made legally possible over a decade ago by European liberalisation.

But after this week’s launch of services by Lufthansa Italia from Milan Malpensa, to Barcelona and Paris, during the next two months Lufthansa Italia will launch a further six routes using a fleet of A319s it has borrowed from its partner Germanwings, though with a revised cabin configuration.

Destination Launch date LH weeklyfrequency Competition
Barcelona (BCN) 2 February 2009 19 Clickair (12), easyJet (14), Vueling (10)
Paris (CDG) 2 February 2009 20 to 27 Air France (42), Alitalia (14), easyJet (37)
Brussels (BRU) 2 March 2009 14 Brussels Airlines (29), easyJet (13)
Budapest (BUD) 2 March 2009 6 Malev (14)
Bucharest (OTP) 2 March 2009 7 Alitalia (6), easyJet (5)
Madrid (MAD) 2 March 2009 13 easyJet (14), Iberia (29)
London (LHR) 29 March 2009 26 British Airways (28)
Lisbon (LIS) 29 March 2009 7 easyJet (6), TAP Portugal (14)
Source: Lufthansa and OAG Max Online

On six of the selected eight routes Lufthansa will compete head-to-head with Malpensa’s busiest airline, easyJet, although only indirectly on the London service where Lufthansa has chosen to operate to Heathrow while easyJet operates four times daily to London Gatwick.

Night-stops in London and Paris

By the start of the summer season the six A319s will each be operating the equivalent of three daily rotations. Two A319s will be departing from low-cost matra and night-stopping – one each in London Heathrow and Paris CDG. Three of the other A319s will depart Malpensa at 07:00 in the morning.

Image: Lufthansa crew Image: Signing the christening certificates for the Airbus jets in the Lufthansa Italia fleet
Lined up with the crew in the new uniform, Lufthansa Executive Vice President Services and Human Resources Karl Ulrich Garnadt: “For the first time in the history of Lufthansa, we are launching a new airline outside Germany. Signing the christening certificates for the Airbus jets in the Lufthansa Italia fleet –
(from left: Edoardo Croci, City Council of Milan; Karl Ulrich Garnadt; Attilio Fontana, Mayor of Varese)

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  1. David Henderson says:

    What about Finnair at Stockholm?
    Austrian at Bratislava?

  2. Antoin Daltun says:

    Not the first legacy carrier with a base outside its own territory – BA in France and Germany (unsuccessfully years ago) and OpenSkies based wherever it is based, Aer Lingus (claiming legacy and LCA status) in Belfast: would the Swissair control of Sabena and others not count?
    Good luck to Lufthansa Italy, but it is not the first. replies: Like we said, it’s a question of definition. BA’s adventres in France (TAT) and Germany (Delta Air which was then re-branded as Deutsche BA) started by buying existing airlines which is not the same thing as setting them up from scratch. Aer Lingus is a funny one really. Their base in Belfast doesn’t seem as adventurous as they speak the same language as at their home base. Austrian in Bratislava was a half-hearted attempt to cherry pick a few SkyEurope routes and only involved one aircraft from what we can recall.

    Maybe more importantly, regardless of whether this is the first or not, will it be the last? How about Air France/KLM or BA setting up a subsidiary in Athens if Olympic downsizes?

  3. David Henderson says:

    Hello Antoin – it’s been a long time.
    Aer Lingus used to have a hub operation in Manchester too, although that was pre-liberalisation.

  4. matias says:

    Would you not think that BA setting up OpenSkies in New York to be the first European flag carrier setting up a foreign base? The trend already appears det to continue as Aer Lingus has announced plans to start a base in LGW.

  5. Bernard Lavelle says:

    How about CityJet for Air France at LCY?

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