Eurowings continues consolidation efforts, with no further expansion plans until the Lufthansa LCC subsidiary’s expected  return to profitability in 2021.

“2018 was a stormy year and we learned our lessons from it. In 2019 we are focused on point-to-point traffic. Our punctuality and operational performance have improved,” Eurowings managing director and CCO Oliver Wagner told ATW in Salzburg.

The airline still expects to cut unit costs by 15% in 2022 if staffing, overhead and fleet changes deliver expected results.

“We had a good [third quarter] this year. We launched our fleet program and invested in Airbus A320neos. The new aircraft immediately delivered noticeable reliability,” Wagner said.

Older A319/320s will be phased out and consolidation of bases has been completed, as Eurowings now focuses on Cologne, Dusseldorf, Hamburg and Stuttgart (Germany), Salzburg (Austria) and Palma de Mallorca (Spain). The airline also has a presence in Dortmund (Germany) and Pristina (Kosovo).

The Eurowings long-haul unit operated by SunExpress—a joint venture of Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines—will be transferred to Lufthansa at the beginning of next year.

“Then Eurowings can focus on its core competency: point-to-point traffic,” Wagner said.

Plans to integrate with sister company Brussels Airlines were scrapped in June.

“Brussels Airlines is still more of a hub carrier and thus, it would be better if Lufthansa has responsibility for Brussels Airlines instead Eurowings,” Wagner said.

To further reduce complexity, the airline is also working to consolidate its various air operator's certificates (AOCs) for its German bases.

Following the takeover of former airberlin aircraft, Eurowings had three AOCs in Germany alone: the former Düsseldorf-based regional carrier Eurowings GmbH, Germanwings and LGW, which has since been sold but continues to provide wet-lease services to Eurowings with its 15 De Havilland Dash 8-400s.

“In the long term, we plan to have one German and one foreign AOC, but that will not happen overnight,” Wagner said.

The number of wet-lease contracts will be further reduced in 2020 and 2021. Eurowings currently has more than 20 wet-leased aircraft in operation.

The doubling of Germany’s short-haul aviation tax, set to take effect April 1, 2020, will create “double-digit million euros in additional costs” for Eurowings, Wagner said.

“This hits every flight outbound and I think we will not be able to pass 100% of this tax to the customer,” Wagner said.

He also could not rule out that some German domestic routes could be cut as a result of the tax increase.

Kurt Hofmann, hofmann.aviation@netway.at