Flying tourists? Others may do that, it was said recently. But the Lufthansa Executive Board has now bid farewell to this elitist principle. Jens Bischof, head of the group subsidiary Eurowings, announced: This summer alone there will be “more than 300 flights a week to Mallorca, from 24 airports across Europe”. You have to react “very flexibly” to current events and developments.
The cutthroat competition in the vacationer segment is in full swing, also confirms Condor boss Ralf Teckentrup. Airlines like Lufthansa are now increasingly relying on private travelers. It surprises him very much when companies that have proven not to have earned any money in the past now say: Tourism is the panacea. He doubts that one can operate the 800 or so Lufthansa aircraft profitably in this way.
The vacation airline Condor was once an unloved part of the Lufthansa Group. In 2009 the tour operator Thomas Cook took over the last Lufthansa shares. Now the giant wants to steal business from the repulsed little one again, because: In times of need, the devil eats flies.
Over the past four decades, the aviation sector has doubled its sales every ten years. Up until the outbreak of Corona, business highs were everyday life. In 2020, however, over 40 airlines, some of them well-known, switched to protective shield proceedings or went straight to bankruptcy. The trend continues. It is true that many airlines have been saved thanks to substantial aid from tax revenues, but they continue to post billions in losses. Experts estimate that the industry as a whole could reach 40 to 45 percent of the pre-crisis level this year. If everything goes well.
But Lufthansa wants more. The group, which received nine billion euros in government aid from the federal government, although it did not need the money, is using the pandemic for a brutal restructuring. At the end of 2020, the group had over 110,000 employees worldwide. That was 20 percent less than the year before. In Germany, a good 64,000 employees worked for the group – which corresponds to a “loss” of 9,494 employees. In addition to the downsizing that has already taken place and the crisis agreements concluded with the social partners, “further measures to restructure the Lufthansa Group and its associated companies are necessary,” the top management said. As part of the “ReNew restructuring program”, a further 27,000 full-time positions are to be cut.
While group subsidiaries such as Sun-Express Deutschland and Germanwings were kept on the ground and their employees dropped, Lufthansa founded a new airline in July 2020. “At Eurowings Dis-cover we started with a blank sheet of paper,” says its boss Wolfgang Raebiger. Within just one year, with “great support from the entire Lufthansa Group, a motivated team and in close cooperation with the Federal Aviation Office”, it was possible to set up an airline. With over 600 employees, the youngest Lufthansa subsidiary will soon be heading to 16 holiday destinations. It starts on July 24th. When the line starts, Raebiger will be in the cockpit himself – he will steer the A 330 to Mombasa in Kenya. Another premier destination will be Zanzibar.
“The timing couldn’t have been better. People can finally travel again, ”emphasizes Raebiger. At the beginning of August there are therefore flights to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic and to Windhoek in Namibia. In September there will be launches in Las Vegas, in winter Eurowings Discover will enter the European business.
Now it would have been just as logical as it would have been social if one – like retired aircraft – had also taken over the flight attendants, pilots and employees of Sun-Express or Germanwings in the new company. But that was exactly what was not wanted. Instead, an area has been created in which there is neither a collective agreement nor traditional participation rights for the workforce. In view of the crisis, it is possible to hire “cheaper staff” on “more favorable terms”.
In 2022, the airline plans to use ten A 320ceo in addition to eleven A 330s. The machines will be distributed to the Frankfurt am Main and Munich hubs. There you have a connection to the Lufthansa feeder network. Eurowings Discover wants to sell every second ticket directly – to “infrequent flyers”. So rely on customers who might go on vacation once or twice a year. They are given the »freedom« to log into a special cloud with smartphones or tablets in order to use a wide range of films or games. The food is also adapted to tourism. Vegan options, like more legroom, are only available for a surcharge. And of course the new airline also takes care of a positive CO2 balance. Therefore, there will only be cutlery made of bamboo on board.