Lufthansa to germanwings transfer of routes nearing completion; 25 routes dropped but 47 added as capacity grows 1%

At the start of the summer 2014 season the ‘new’ germanwings launched operations at Düsseldorf Airport. Celebrating the event on a gloriously sunny 30 March were Oliver Wagner, Managing Director, germanwings (fourth from left) and Thomas Schnalke, Managing Director Düsseldorf Airport (fourth from right). Apart from taking over Lufthansa’s non-hub intra-European routes, germanwings has also started a number of new routes not previously served by Lufthansa.

Europe’s leading flag-carriers have all had to face the challenges presented by the rapid growth of low-cost carriers (LCCs) during the last 10-15 years. While British Airways basically terminated international services from all UK airports outside of London, Air France has tried to fight back recently by merging its regional operators into a single entity, HOP!, and growing its own LCC operations provided by France. In Germany, Lufthansa has taken the decision to only operate intra-European services from its Frankfurt and Munich hubs, and transfer all other services operated from German airports, to its lower-cost germanwings subsidiary.

Launched in October 2002 as a pure LCC, germanwings for many years operated a fleet of mostly A319s and some A320s from bases at Cologne Bonn, Stuttgart, Berlin and Hannover. However, once the decision was taken to transfer all of Lufthansa’s non-hub flying to germanwings, the airline also absorbed the CRJ 900s operated by Eurowings on behalf of Lufthansa. As a result, as of March 2014 germanwings’ fleet stands at 67 aircraft; seven A320s, 41 A319s and 19 CRJ 900s. Last year, germanwings reportedly carried some 16 million passengers, with the figure likely to rise significantly in 2014. During the last 18 months the biggest changes have taken place in Hamburg and Düsseldorf, as germanwings has gradually taken over the majority of Lufthansa’s routes at these airports.

Lufthansa/germanwings intra-European capacity up 1.0% in August

With all these routes being transferred it would be easy to overlook which intra-European routes have actually been dropped by the Lufthansa Group of airlines, and which new point-to-point services are operating this summer, that were not operating last summer. By analysing intra-European schedule data for August 2014 and August 2013 for both carriers, has estimated that overall the number of flights operated by both carriers combined is down marginally (0.3%), while the number of seats offered is up slightly (+1.0%).

More interestingly has identified 47 genuinely new routes (not operated last summer) while also finding 25 routes that have apparently disappeared from the Lufthansa Group’s network. These route changes are summarised in the following table.

German airport New destinations Dropped destinations
Berlin (TXL) Ancona (AOI), Istanbul (SAW), Klagenfurt (KLU), Memmingen (FMM), Sarajevo (SJJ), Verona (VRN) Bucharest (OTP), Funchal (FNC), Geneva (GVA), Stockholm (ARN), Valencia (VLC)
Cologne Bonn (CGN) Calvi (CLY), Heringsdorf (HDF), Knock (NOC), Warsaw (WAW)
Dortmund (DTM) Heringsdorf (HDF)
Düsseldorf (DUS) Ancona (AOI), Balaton (SOB), Bastia (BIA), Cagliari (CAG), Heraklion (HER), Heringsdorf (HDF), Izmir (ADB), Katowice (KTW), Lamezia Terme (SUF), Montpellier (MPL), Rijeka (RJK), Thessaloniki (SKG), Turin (TRN) Bologna (BLQ), Funchal (FNC), Helsinki (HEL), Jerez (XRY), Kiev (KBP), Knock (NOC), Krakow (KRK), Menorca (MAH), Oslo (OSL), Stuttgart (STR), Varna (VAR), Westerland/Sylt (GWT)
Frankfurt (FRA) Heringsdorf (HDF), Lublin (LUZ), Montpellier (MPL), Valencia (VLC) Ankara (ESB), Jerez (XRY), London (LGW)
Hamburg (HAM) Istanbul (SAW), Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden (FKB), Klagenfurt (KLU), Memmingen (FMM), Naples (NAP), Prague (PRG), Pula (PUY), Rijeka (RJK), Rome (FCO), Thessaloniki (SKG), Toulouse (TLS), Verona (VRN), Zadar (ZAD), Zagreb (ZAG) Moscow (VKO)
Hannover (HAJ) Istanbul (SAW)
Munich (MUC) Bodrum (BJV), Lamezia Terme (SUF) Menorca (MAH), Pristina (PRN)
Stuttgart (STR) Heringsdorf (HDF), Naples (NAP) Düsseldorf (DUS), Manchester (MAN), Moscow (VKO)
Source: analysis of Innovata / Diio Mi data for w/c 11 August 2014 and w/c 12 August 2013.

As a result of these changes, Lufthansa/germanwings’ combined intra-European network has grown from 449 airport pairs in August 2013 to 471 in August 2014. In other words, the number of routes offered has grown by almost 5%, while capacity has grown by just 1%. This results in average weekly frequency on intra-European routes falling from 13.2 in August 2013 to 12.6 in August 2014.

Düsseldorf sees biggest route cuts but Lufthansa Group capacity is still up

Almost half of all the dropped routes have been from Düsseldorf, where 12 destinations served last summer are not served this summer, but where germanwings has also started 13 new routes. In terms of overall intra-European weekly seat capacity (in August), both Düsseldorf and Hamburg have seen growth of 4.1% versus last August, Berlin Tegel is up 1.6%, Stuttgart up 0.9% and Cologne Bonn up 0.6%. At Lufthansa’s two hubs, intra-European seat capacity is up 6.3% at Frankfurt, but down 7.1% in Munich. Although Munich has gained as many routes as it has lost (just two), frequency reductions have been made on around half of Lufthansa’s routes from the airport.

Transfer of routes not quite complete

While the transfer of routes from Lufthansa to germanwings has just about been completed, a further 18 routes from Düsseldorf still operated by Lufthansa this summer, will be transferred to germanwings between August and January 2015. This includes high frequency routes to Berlin Tegel, London Heathrow and Zurich, as well as other UK routes to Birmingham, Glasgow, Manchester and Newcastle. By next summer, the only Lufthansa routes left at Düsseldorf will be Frankfurt, Munich and the airline’s two long-haul routes to Chicago O’Hare and New York Newark.


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