Berlin is by far the largest city in Germany, though doesn’t have a single longhaul Lufthansa route. Instead Lufthansa operates a vast majority of their longhaul flights out of Frankfurt and Munich, with a few longhaul flights being operated out of Dusseldorf.
Why does Lufthansa have such limited operations out of Berlin?
- Frankfurt and Munich are the business hubs of Germany; while Berlin has lots of demand, it’s mostly leisure (in other words, low yield)
- Airberlin operates some longhaul flights from Berlin, and their planes are much more appropriately configured for the leisure market (for example, the airberlin A330 seats 298 people, while the Lufthansa A330 seats 217)
- Berlin’s new airport has been delayed for years, and it looks like it may never open; the old airport has limited capacity, so it could be that Lufthansa was waiting for the new airport before expanding operations
Anyway, Lufthansa is seriously considering adding longhaul flights out of Berlin, though it would be under the Eurowings brand (previously known as Germanwings, though they’re in the process of rebranding).
Eurowings should get seven A330s by the end of next year, which they plan to mostly use for longhaul flights out of Cologne. However, they’re also considering using these for longhaul operations out of Berlin.
Eurowings is looking at stationing Airbus Group SE A330 wide-body jets in the German capital, Chief Executive Officer Carsten Spohr said at the city’s Tegel airport Monday. It’s already due to get seven of the planes by the end of next year for flights from Cologne to destinations including Dubai and Mauritius.
While Berlin is “one of the fastest growing air-travel markets in Europe,” three in four passengers fly for private rather than business reasons and are more price sensitive, making the Eurowings model ideally suited, Spohr said. Lufthansa’s last long-haul route from the city, to Washington, was scrapped in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
It’s interesting to see a legacy European airline adapt to the market by splitting out their operations into a “premium” and “low cost” operation; this seems to be more and more common nowadays. Eurowings is taking over all Lufthansa European flights which aren’t to/from Frankfurt or Munich, and Lufthansa has even introduced a new high density sub-fleet for longhaul leisure flights out of Frankfurt.
What Lufthansa is doing is ultimately needed to compete with low cost carriers (Norwegian Air Shuttle, Ryanair, etc.), as well as the “big three” Gulf carriers (Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar), which are quickly taking over global market share.
It would be great to see more longhaul flights directly to/from Berlin, even if it’s not the most luxurious product out there.
(Tip of the hat to Geoffrey)