One of the main low-cost airlines operating at Faro Airport is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Eurowings first took off in February 1993 with 26 propeller planes, and now the Lufthansa subsidiary has a fleet of more than 100 aircraft flying to 140 destinations in 50-plus countries, including Portugal.
The Eurowings story actually began earlier, in the mid-1970s, when two pilots sharing the same dream – but independently of each other – founded Nürnberger Flugdienst (Hans Rudolf Wöhrl) and Dortmund Reise- und Industrieflug (Reinhard Santner). The portfolio of the two companies was similar, including air taxi services, ambulance and cargo flights, and seaside resort services – so-called “on-demand” air transport.
The two regional airlines merged on 1 February 1993, and the name “Eurowings” was suggested by an employee who won an ideas competition, while the launch logo was designed by students of the Nuremberg Academy of Arts.
The newly merged airline started with just under 1,000 employees and used ATR 72 propeller aircraft. The focus was on domestic connections, although 32 destinations in 11 countries were also served in the founding year.
Initially, Eurowings had to fly under the flight numbers NFD and RFG, because the code that the airline needed had been assigned by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to a subsidiary of Papua New Guinea-based Janlyn PTE.
After intensive negotiations, Eurowings secured the EW code for its flights and the first flight, with the number EW733, travelled from Nuremberg to Paris in 1994. In the 1990s, Eurowings took over feeder flights for the Dutch airline KLM, among others, and serviced the Amsterdam route – initially as a Lufthansa competitor.
New Low-Cost Strategy
In 2001, Lufthansa acquired a stake in the company and its strategy changed: the turboprop aircraft were replaced by CRJ jets, and Eurowings operated flights in the Lufthansa regional network.
One year later, Eurowings launched a low-cost pioneer for Germany, Germanwings, which (in tandem with Eurowings) soon broke the 10 million passenger mark. This was the beginning of a major era of low-cost airlines (slogan: “Fly high, pay low”). In 2011, Eurowings moved to Düsseldorf, the largest air traffic location in North Rhine-Westphalia.
In 2014, the company adopted its current brand image, highlighted by the “Light Sky Blue” and “Burgundy” colours, and undertook a significant expansion of Germanwings and Eurowings in line with growing travel: the previous Eurowings fleet of smaller CRJ aircraft was replaced by 23 aircraft from the Airbus A320 family.
After 2015, Eurowings began to expand away from German airports, opening a base in Mallorca and founding the Eurowings Europe flight operation for pan-European routes outside Germany. Subsequently, after the demise of Air Berlin in 2017, Eurowings took over a large part of its fleet and many of its former staff.
Today, in addition to bases in Cologne/Bonn, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Stuttgart and Berlin, Eurowings also has major operations in Palma de Mallorca, Salzburg, Prague and Stockholm. A Eurowings aircraft takes off or lands somewhere in Europe every minute, which makes it one of the largest leisure airlines in Europe.
Commitment to Sustainability
Eurowings stresses that it combines its passion for flying with corporate responsibility for the environment. It aims to cut its carbon emissions in half by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. “An important step towards this was the introduction of the world’s most efficient medium-haul jet, the Airbus A320neo, into the fleet in 2022. Each new aircraft of this type emits 4,500 tonnes less CO2 per year compared to its predecessor. In addition to this, more than 50 projects with the aim of conserving resources and protecting the environment are underway at Eurowings.
“Carbon compensation at the click of a mouse, punctual flights, friendly services, the most flexible rebooking options in the industry or a free middle seat starting at €10 – these are just a few of the many examples of the modern value concept with which Eurowings presents itself as young, modern and innovative, even after 30 years.”
In January, Eurowings announced that it was including more frequent flights (five times per week) from Hamburg to Faro Airport.