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Analysis: Eurowings To Start Low-Cost Dubai Flights

Analysis: Eurowings To Start Low-Cost Dubai Flights

How will Eurowings’ new low-cost Dubai services fare next winter?

Lufthansa Group will launch twice weekly Cologne/Bonn-Dubai flights through its low-cost Eurowings brand next winter.

Cologne-Bonn isn’t currently served by any Gulf airlines directly and, on the face of it, it’s an interesting double strike for Lufthansa, connecting not only a new destination but targeting, potentially, new low-cost travellers in Europe and the Gulf.

The new Eurowings intercontinental connections will be flown by A330-200s. The fleet will initially consist of two A320s and be expanded to seven aircraft.

SunExpress Deutschland, a joint venture of Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines, will operate the long-haul route aircraft on behalf of Eurowings with its own cockpit and cabin personnel. New services are also earmarked between Germany and the Caribbean and Thailand.

It’s no secret that the German carrier continues to grapple with tough competition on all four fronts regionally, from Emirates, Etihad, its partner Air Berlin and Qatar Airways.

The service will be predominantly for leisure travellers and tourism is a key revenue driver for Dubai and it dovetails with the government’s strategy to attract more mid-market/value travellers ahead of Expo 2020.

For now, Lufthansa won’t face the same kind of competition as it does in the full-service sphere.

While flydubai flies as far as Prague and Bratislava, it’s unlikely to fly any further into Europe on its B737-800s – although that may change once it gets the B737 MAX 8s. It marks the second European carrier to enter this market with Wizz Air starting flights between Eastern Europe and Dubai World Central.

The fares look tempting, but as always with low-cost ticketing, travellers will need to be wary. The €99 basic fare may grab the headlines but expect to pay significantly more when you book Smart and Best fares, upwards of €149-359.

But all in, prices should be less than scheduled airlines. I found fares for travel next December totalling €509 (Dhs2,067) which is significantly less than anything you’ll find on Emirates to Germany, or indeed Lufthansa.

Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at StrategicAero Research, dismissed the move as a “short term gimmick” and was pessimistic about Eurowings’ chances of success in Dubai. Many carriers have tried and failed to make widebody long-haul services work.

“Eurowings may get a few token passenger thumbs up, but you get what you pay for and this operation isn’t a patch on the quality that Emirates or flydubai offer,” he said. “Customers will ditch this airline once the initial low fares are jettisoned to cover the fuel costs of the ageing and gas-guzzling Airbus A330s it plans to use.”

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