Last updated
Germanwings logo.svg
IATA ICAO Callsign
as a division of Eurowings
as a separate company
Operating bases
Frequent-flyer program
Fleet size42
Parent company Lufthansa Group
Headquarters Cologne, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
Key peopleExecutive Board: Michael Knitter, Francesco Sciortino

Germanwings GmbH is a German low-cost airline wholly owned by Lufthansa [1] which operates under the Eurowings brand. It is based in Cologne with hubs at Cologne Bonn Airport, Stuttgart Airport, Hamburg Airport, Berlin Tegel Airport and further bases at Hannover Airport and Dortmund Airport. [2]

Germany Federal parliamentary republic in central-western Europe

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north, and the Alps, Lake Constance and the High Rhine to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.

Low-cost carrier Airline with generally lower fares

A low-cost carrier or low-cost airline is an airline that is operated with an especially high emphasis on minimizing operating costs and without some of the traditional services and amenities provided in the fare, resulting in lower fares and fewer comforts. To make up for revenue lost in decreased ticket prices, the airline may charge extra fees – such as for carry-on baggage. As of July 2014, the world's largest low-cost carrier is Southwest Airlines, which operates in the United States and some surrounding areas.

Deutsche Lufthansa AG , commonly known as Lufthansa, is the largest German airline and, when combined with its subsidiaries, also the largest airline in Europe in terms of passengers carried. The name of the company is derived from the German word Luft "air" and Hansa, the Hanseatic League. Lufthansa is one of the five founding members of Star Alliance, the world's largest airline alliance, formed in 1997.


Germanwings operated independently as Lufthansa's low-cost carrier until October 2015, when Lufthansa decided to transfer the brand identity of its short haul-product to Eurowings. Since 2016 Germanwings is a wet lease operator for its sister company Eurowings. The Germanwings brand has not been used since then, although the IATA code "4U" continued to operate under the Eurowings brand until March 2018, when Germanwings' own IATA-Code 4U was abandoned and replaced with the Eurowings designator EW. [3]

Eurowings GmbH is a German low-cost airline headquartered in Düsseldorf and a wholly owned subsidiary of the Lufthansa Group. Founded in 1996, it serves a network of domestic and European destinations as well as some long-haul routes and maintains bases at Berlin Tegel Airport, Cologne Bonn Airport, Düsseldorf Airport, Hamburg Airport, Hannover Airport, Munich Airport, Nuremberg Airport, Palma de Mallorca Airport, Salzburg Airport, Stuttgart Airport, and Vienna International Airport.


Early years

Germanwings Airbus A319-100 wearing the former livery Germanwings A319 D-AILK.jpg
Germanwings Airbus A319-100 wearing the former livery

In 1997, Eurowings set up a low-cost department, which became a separate company under the name Germanwings on 27 October 2002. On 7 December 2005, the airline signed an agreement to purchase 18 Airbus A319-100 aircraft with a further 12 options, with deliveries scheduled from July 2006 until 2008. [4]

Option (finance) right to to buy or sell a certain thing at a later date at an agreed price

In finance, an option is a contract which gives the buyer the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell an underlying asset or instrument at a specified strike price prior to or on a specified date, depending on the form of the option. The strike price may be set by reference to the spot price of the underlying security or commodity on the day an option is taken out, or it may be fixed at a discount or at a premium. The seller has the corresponding obligation to fulfill the transaction – to sell or buy – if the buyer (owner) "exercises" the option. An option that conveys to the owner the right to buy at a specific price is referred to as a call; an option that conveys the right of the owner to sell at a specific price is referred to as a put. Both are commonly traded, but the call option is more frequently discussed.

During winter 2004–2005 Germanwings leased two Boeing 717-200s from Aerolíneas de Baleares to test the aircraft type, but no order was made afterwards.

In 2008, initial plans were made to merge Germanwings, Eurowings and TUIfly into one airline to compete with Air Berlin and its subsidiary LTU in the German market and with easyJet and Ryanair on international routes. However, these plans never realized. Instead, Germanwings became a wholly owned subsidiary of Lufthansa on 1 January 2009. [5]

Air Berlin former German airline

Air Berlin PLC & Co. Luftverkehrs KG, branded as airberlin or was a major German airline. At its peak, it was Germany's second-largest airline, as well as Europe's tenth-largest airline in terms of passengers carried. It was headquartered in Berlin and had hubs at Berlin Tegel Airport and Düsseldorf Airport. It was a member of the oneworld airline alliance.

LTU International former German airline

LTU, legally incorporated as LTU Lufttransport-Unternehmen GmbH, was a German leisure airline headquartered in Düsseldorf. It operated medium and long-haul routes and maintained hubs at Düsseldorf Airport, Munich Airport and Berlin-Tegel Airport. LTU was acquired by Air Berlin in 2007. Use of the LTU brand ceased in 2009, and LTU itself was dissolved by April 2011.

EasyJet British low-cost airline

EasyJet Airline Company Limited, styled as easyJet, is a British low-cost airline headquartered at London Luton Airport. It operates domestic and international scheduled services on over 1,000 routes in more than 30 countries. EasyJet plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index. easyGroup Holdings Ltd is the largest shareholder with a 34.62% stake. It employs nearly 14,000 people, based throughout Europe but mainly in the UK.

Takeover of Lufthansa routes from 2012

In 2012 Lufthansa announced its plans to transfer point-to-point shorthaul flights operating from cities other than Frankfurt and Munich from Lufthansa to Germanwings. [6] [7] Therefore, the company received a revised corporate design. The transfer of Lufthansa's shorthaul routes occurred between spring 2013 and autumn 2014; Düsseldorf Airport was the last base transferred from March 2014.

Düsseldorf Airport International Airport in Germany

Düsseldorf Airport is the international airport of Düsseldorf, the capital of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. It is about 7 kilometres (4 mi) north of downtown Düsseldorf, and some 20 kilometres (12 mi) south-west of Essen in the Rhine-Ruhr area, Germany's largest metropolitan area.

As part of the 2013 restructuring and relaunch of Germanwings, around 30 Lufthansa aircraft were to be added to Germanwings' fleet of 33 aircraft. [8] Additionally, the 23 aircraft currently operated by Eurowings for Lufthansa flights not flying out of Frankfurt and Munich were to join Germanwings. The new Germanwings was to operate around 90 aircraft.

The airline has a long-standing dispute with the Vereinigung Cockpit union, which demands a scheme in which pilots can retire at the age of 55 and retain 60% of their pay, which parent Lufthansa insists is no longer affordable. Germanwings pilots staged a nationwide strike in support of their demands in April 2014 which lasted 3 days. The pilots staged a six-hour strike in September 2014. Simultaneous strikes were staged by Lufthansa pilots. [9]

By the end of 2014, all of Lufthansa's national routes and international traffic to and from Germany - except flights to and from Frankfurt and Munich and the routes from Düsseldorf to Newark and Chicago [10] - were transferred to Germanwings. [11] The last route to be transferred was Düsseldorf-Zurich on 8 January 2015. [10] [12]

Integration into Eurowings from 2015

In January 2015, Lufthansa Group announced that it would discontinue the Germanwings brand and replace it with Eurowings starting in late 2015. [13]

On 25 October 2015, Eurowings took over 55 routes previously operated under the Germanwings brand. [14] [15] The first Germanwings bases to be mostly taken over by Eurowings were Düsseldorf Airport, Hamburg Airport - at both of which Eurowings already operated on behalf of Germanwings - and Cologne Bonn Airport.

Lufthansa announced in October 2015 that Germanwings' own website will be dissolved and redirected to Eurowings by January 2016 as part of their merger. However, Germanwings continues to operate as a company. [16] From that date, Eurowings became solely responsible for all sales under the Germanwings brand. [17] In January 2016, Germanwings' social media profiles, e.g. on Facebook and YouTube, have been renamed to Eurowings while the URL now redirects to However, Germanwings continues to operate under its own flight numbers but only using the Eurowings brand.

In December 2016, it was announced that Germanwings would retire 20 aircraft during 2017 without replacement due to Lufthansa's new wet-lease deal with Air Berlin which also provides services for Eurowings. It has been reported that the Air Berlin aircraft are newer and cheaper to operate than those of Germanwings. [18]

In August 2017, it was announced that Germanwings would abandon its own IATA code 4U by 25 March 2018. Instead, it uses Eurowings' EW code from then on for all operations, which are already carried out under the Eurowings brand. [3]

Corporate affairs

Germanwings' head office in Cologne Germanwings Headquarter 2015 2.jpg
Germanwings' head office in Cologne

Germanwings had been wholly owned by Lufthansa since 1 January 2009; formal reporting since then had been within the Group Accounts. From 2012, Germanwings figures had been reported only within the 'Lufthansa Passenger Airline Group', and have not generally been available separately. The key known trends for Germanwings are shown below (as at year ending 31 December):

2008200920102011201220132014 2015
Turnover (€m)628580630687n/an/aSeparate
data no
Profits (EBITDA) (€m)3963−9−15n/an/a
Number of employees (at year end)1,0461,1111,2721,2741,3522,073
Number of passengers (m)
Passenger load factor (%)n/an/a77.278.2n/an/a
Number of aircraft (at year end)2526303032678462
Notes/sources [19] [20] [20] [21] [22] [23] [24] [25] [26] [27] [28] [29]

In line with Lufthansa's declared business strategy, the transfer of European non-hub traffic from Lufthansa Passenger Airlines to Germanwings continued in 2014 and was completed successfully on 7 January 2015. [30] (The increase in 2013 and 2014 figures was due to this intervening transfer of aircraft and routes from Lufthansa.)

Service concept

Germanwings had offered three fare types since 2013. Basic was no-frills and offered no free catering and only hand luggage. Best included hold baggage, free snacks and drinks as well as access to some lounges for tier members of Miles&More. [31] Smart and Best more or less corresponded to the Lufthansa service offered on the routes taken over by Germanwings. The fleet was only equipped with economy class.

Germanwings offered Sky Bistro (Bord Shop in German), a buy on board food and drinks programme. [32] The airline provided an inflight magazine, a bi-monthly German and English magazine called GW. While the primary editorial focus was rooted in Germanwings destinations, the content was not exclusively about travel. [33]

As for its booking services, Germanwings provided Blind Booking, a unique option that allowed passengers to choose one of Germanwings' base airports, select a category of destination (e.g. Party, Gay-friendly or Culture) and then purchase a round-trip ticket via a random lottery process from among the cities in the category. Such tickets were often priced lower than the corresponding ticket to the same destination, and Germanwings e-mails its customers with details of their destination shortly after the purchase. [34]


Codeshare agreements

Germanwings had codeshare agreements with the following airlines: [35]


Germanwings Airbus A319-100 wearing the new 2013 livery GWI A319 D-AKNS.JPG
Germanwings Airbus A319-100 wearing the new 2013 livery

As of February 2019, the Germanwings fleet consists of the following aircraft: [36]

Germanwings fleet
AircraftIn serviceOrdersPassengers (C/Y+/Y)Notes
Airbus A319-100 24(12/42/96) 150 [36] operated for Eurowings
Airbus A320-200 9(12/50/108) 170 [36] operated for Eurowings

Special liveries

Germanwings' former Park Inn Hotels special livery Germanwings Airbus A319-112; D-AKNF@ZRH;22.05.2007 469ga (4291954628).jpg
Germanwings' former Park Inn Hotels special livery

Germanwings used several different special liveries in the past. Some aircraft had special liveries promoting German cities (e.g. the Bearbus paint scheme inspired by the coat of arms of Berlin), or as advertisements (e.g. a pink livery for T-Mobile). [37] Those were abandoned during the 2013 rebranding.

Incidents and accidents

D-AIPX, the plane that crashed as Flight 9525 in March 2015 320 GERMANWINGS D-AIPX 147 10 05 14 BCN RIP (16730197959).jpg
D-AIPX, the plane that crashed as Flight 9525 in March 2015

As of the merger, Germanwings had been involved in one major incident, which resulted in 150 fatalities. On 24 March 2015, an Airbus A320-211 with registration D-AIPX was operating Flight 9525 from Barcelona to Düsseldorf when it crashed in the south of France near Digne-les-Bains, with no survivors. The flight was carrying 144 passengers, two pilots and four cabin crew. [38] The crash was intentionally caused by the co-pilot, 27-year-old Andreas Lubitz. Phil Giles, a former investigator with the UK’s Air Accident Investigation Branch, told The Independent on March 29, 2015 that Germanwings (and hence Lufthansa) would have serious questions to answer over the mental state and medical history of this employee. [39] [40] [41] Lubitz took time off from his flight training for several months and informed the Flight Training Pilot School in 2009 of a "previous episode of severe depression". [42] He later completed the training. Prior to his training as a commercial pilot, he was also treated for suicidal tendencies. [43] [44]

Following the incident, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) made a recommendation to airlines that two authorized people must be present in the cockpit at all times. [45] In coordination with the German aviation authority, other German airlines and the German aviation industry association, the airlines of the Lufthansa Group implemented a policy requiring this. [46]

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