Eurowings Discover becomes Discover Airlines: Lufthansa’s low-cost strategy as unclear as ever

Lufthansa’s long-haul low-cost carrier, Eurowings Discover, has been renamed Discover Airlines, but the German airline’s strategy remains unclear.

It is often said that an airline is born low-cost, but does not become low-cost, and the setbacks of all the majors that have entered this niche seem to confirm this. Problems of cost, identity, positioning – none of them seem to have found the magic formula, especially when it comes to long-haul.

From Eurowings to Discover

Lufthansa’s low-cost adventure began in 2001 with a minority stake in Eurowings, followed by a full takeover in 2011. At the same time, it created Germanwings in 2002.

Two low-cost airlines is one too many. Although Eurowings initially operated flights for Germanwings, it was decided in 2015 that the Germanwings brand would disappear, with Eurowings becoming the sole umbrella brand for the airline’s low-cost business. COVID will ultimately kill off the brand, which will disappear in 2020.

In 2021, medium- and long-haul low-cost operations will be split into two brands: Eurowings for the former, and Eurowings Discover for the latter.

And so we have just learned that Eurowings Discover is to become Discover Airlines, with the coexistence of two low-cost brands within the Lufthansa Group: Eurowings for short-haul, Discover Airlines for long-haul.

And apart from that? Nothing seems to change.

Discover will operate a fleet of 22 Airbus aircraft, including 12 A330s, with the ambition of increasing to 28 within a year.

A clearer brand?

The long-haul cost business remains complicated and, in any case, does not operate according to the same model as the short/medium-haul business. It’s understandable, then, that the Eurowing brand could be a nuisance when it comes to marketing services that are no longer low-cost (long-haul obliges), without being those of a legacy.

Hence the idea, probably, of keeping Eurowings for low-cost and using Discover for a long-haul leisure offer (note the nuance between low-cost and leisure), somewhat similar to Condor.

Will it appeal to the general public? It takes time to establish a brand, especially when you change your positioning every two years. Only time will tell, but it’s clear that Discover and its specific livery will try to stand out from the Eurowings image.

An air of déjà vu?

This is only Lufthansa’s fourth low-cost brand in the last ten years, which speaks volumes about the difficulties traditional airlines face in competing in this specialist market, especially when it comes to long-haul routes.

Not unlike the trial and error of Air France-KLM. There’s Transavia, of course, but don’t forget Joon and its positioning that was as original as it was unreadable. Not to mention Hop!, which was not low-cost, but created a perception problem in relation to the routes operated by Air France…

One of Ben Smith’s first decisions was a salutary one: the clean-up of brands, with Air France and KLM on one side and Transavia on the other.

In comparison, Lufthansa still doesn’t seem to know where it stands, but it’s true that Transavia doesn’t operate long-haul routes, and there’s nothing to say that the Franco-Dutch group wouldn’t face the same positioning and branding issues if it did.

Bottom line

Lufthansa renames Eurowings Discover to Discover Airlines to create a long-haul leisure brand. Time will tell whether a fresh coat of paint and a new name will be enough to ensure success.

Bertrand Duperrin
Bertrand Duperrin
Compulsive traveler, present in the French #avgeek community since the late 2000s and passionate about (long) travel since his youth, Bertrand Duperrin co-founded Travel Guys with Olivier Delestre in March 2015.

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