Lufthansa Relaunches Discover Airlines In Leisure Market Push

Discover Airlines A320

The Discover Airlines livery is unveiled at Frankfurt Airport on Sept. 5, 2023.

Credit: Kurt Hofmann

FRANKFURT—Lufthansa Group has rebranded Eurowings Discover as Discover Airlines ahead of a fresh push into the German long-haul leisure market.

Speaking Sept. 5 during a press conference at Frankfurt Airport to unveil the new plans, Discover Airlines CEO Bernd Bauer laid out ambitious fleet growth plans.

“We have 12 long-haul aircraft in the fleet, and we are already the third-largest long-haul carrier within the Lufthansa Group, even ahead of Austrian Airlines and Brussels Airlines,” said Bauer, who also leads Lufthansa’s Swiss leisure carrier Edelweiss Air.

“In 2024, Discover Airlines will add six Airbus A320s, including one A330, reaching a total fleet size of 28 aircraft,” he said, which should enable Discover to offer a wider network. The majority of these additional aircraft will join the fleet by July 2024, along with one A330 in the 2024-25 winter season. Wholly owned by Lufthansa Group, the then-Eurowings Discover began operations in July 2021.

The latest aircraft will be provided by Lufthansa, Bauer said. “We have access to the group’s assets,” he said, adding Discover is “interested in procurement of assets.” Additional A320neo aircraft will be delivered to Lufthansa Group airlines, freeing up A320ceos for delivery to Discover.

“We will stay with the A320ceo for the time being. The aircraft we are operating are not very old. We have possibilities within the group in shifting aircraft [capacity] around,” Bauer told Aviation Daily, adding that the A320neo series would have an advantage in terms of increased range—and Discover’s medium-range network could potentially be served better. “But this [A320neo in the fleet] will happen in a second step.”

For Discover’s long-haul fleet, Bauer said the team is initially trying to replace A330-200s with A330-300s. According to the Aviation Week Network Fleet Discovery database, Discover operates three A330-200s and nine A330-300s.

“This [A330 switch] will happen before we think about a replacement or [having] additional ultra-long-haul aircraft,” the CEO said. “I think it is [dependent] less on a replacement, because our fleet is quite actually [young].” A bigger consideration is adding ultra-long-haul aircraft capacity to open up new markets to which Discover is not able operate at present, Bauer said.

“I think of markets like Southeast Asia, South America or Latin America—destinations we cannot reach with A330-300s,” he told Aviation Daily.

The carrier has plans to base five A320s in Munich for the summer 2024 season, operating to 23 destinations with 60 takeoffs per week. In the 2024-25 winter season, long-haul flights from Munich will resume with an A330, which will be based in the Bavarian capital.

Next summer, 10 A320s and 13 A330s will be flying from Frankfurt to 33 short- and medium-haul destinations and 17 long-haul destinations. “We are working ... on our hubs in Frankfurt and Munich with our codeshare partners Air Canada and United Airlines,” Bauer added.

Regarding Discover’s somewhat bumpy start to life, Bauer said the company had needed the last year to consolidate. “All beginnings are difficult,” he said. “But now we are operating profitably and consolidating in 2023. Today, Discover’s network includes all major leisure destinations.”

The new brand identity is an important step for the company, according to Bauer. “We need independence, as we are working in a completely different business,” he said. “Because we can position ourselves more independently, the new design demonstrates the connection to the group, which is our home—that’s where we feel comfortable.”

By summer 2024, Discover expects about 13 aircraft to be sporting the new livery.

When asked whether there is enough business in Germany for leisure carriers—as competitor Condor undertakes an ambitious fleet renewal­—Bauer said: “I believe that there is enough space today. We already have 12 long-haul aircraft. We positioned ourselves in this segment.”

Close cooperation with the Lufthansa Group airlines at its Munich and Frankfurt hubs is helping to facilitate long-haul routes, Bauer said. “We need the connections to the hub, and we are very well implemented in the hubs,” he added.

The operational principles are similar to those in play with Edelweiss Air, Swiss International Air Lines’ leisure wing—where Bauer also serves as chief executive. Edelweiss Air complements the 100 destinations served Swiss by adding a further 90 routes. “Between Edelweiss Air and Discover, there are many similarities, but also many differences,” he said.

Discover, which has 2,000 employees, has operated 23,000 flights and transported four million passengers since July 2021. “We are operating 50 flights per day to around 60 destinations worldwide,” Bauer said.

Kurt Hofmann

Kurt Hofmann has been writing on the airline industry for 25 years. He appears frequently on Austrian, Swiss and German television and broadcasting…