The Brussels Airlines & Eurowings Identity Crisis

Filed Under: Brussels, Other Airlines

On Friday I flew from London to Brussels to New York on Brussels Airlines… or so I thought. While I’ll have a full review of these flights shortly, I wanted to first talk about something I found to be strange.

Am I Flying Brussels Airlines Or Eurowings?

I flew from London to Brussels on an A320, and I was surprised to see the plane was in fact painted in the Eurowings livery…

I didn’t think much of it at the time, since I know the two companies are working more closely together, but then it came time for my connection.

My flight from Brussels to New York was operated by an A330-300 featuring Brussels Airlines’ brand new business class…

…yet somehow this plane was also in the Eurowings livery?

On neither flight did the crew in any way mention Eurowings or acknowledge the paint scheme.

Sometimes you have airlines that operate as subsidiaries and when that’s the case they’ll usually announce that specifically. That wasn’t the case here, as references were exclusively to Brussels Airlines.

Looking at the two tail numbers, here’s what is apparently going on (at least according to Airfleets data):

  • The A320 was OO-SNN, a former Laudomotion plane that was taken over by Brussels Airlines just last month, but painted in Eurowings colors
  • The A330-300 was OO-SFB, a former Cathay Pacific plane that was taken over by Brussels Airlines, then taken over by Eurowings and leased to Brussels Airlines, and then taken over by Brussels Airlines again

The Brussels Airlines & Eurowings Connection

Brussels Airlines and Eurowings are both owned by Lufthansa Group. In many ways these have been the two Lufthansa Group airlines with which they’ve been having the most issues:

  • Brussels Airlines has significantly lower yields than the other Lufthansa Group network airlines (Lufthansa, SWISS, and Austrian)
  • Eurowings hasn’t been able to compete very well with the other ultra low cost carriers in Europe

So Lufthansa Group has been struggling in deciding what to do with the two airlines. In early 2018 the plan was for the two airlines to be integrated into one, which seemed like a questionable decision.

Last I heard that’s not fully the plan anymore, as they plan to continue operating Brussels Airlines and Eurowings on both short haul and long haul flights. However, as the strategy is described, Brussels Airlines is the “long-haul competence center” of the Eurowings Group, and Eurowings is “responsible for the “short-haul business.”

Again, they still plan on maintaining both airlines, which makes all of this is even more confusing.

Bottom Line

I really don’t understand the Lufthansa Group strategy with Brussels Airlines and Eurowings. My two flights with them on Friday further drove home the point about the bizarre brand identity they’re taking on.

Everything about the soft product was Brussels Airlines, and the crew was from Brussels Airlines. But the planes were in Eurowings liveries, which as a passenger can be rather confusing.

I actually wasn’t too surprised to see the short haul plane in Eurowings livery, but there is something strange about flying an airline’s flagship aircraft with all new cabins, only to find it painted in the livery of a different carrier.

Comments
  1. Just goes to show how confused LH is about all their little empires. There´s no direction, rhyme or reason it seems. Was clear from the onset that EW wont be able to compete with Ryanair, EasyJet and the likes. Not on short and neither on long haul. And I am wondering if there´s a market at all for long haul low cost carriers…

  2. The elephant in the room keeping Brussels Airlines alive is the African network. They have huge brand recognition in Africa and it would be too difficult to replicate the African routes in the mainline LH network. They are keeping SN alive because the LH group wants to keep African markets alive.

  3. Recently Brussels Airlines has also stopped serving drinks and a snack free of charge in their “economy flex” further going to low cost route

  4. The Eurowings paint job had probably been ordered before LH decided to stick to to the Brussels Airlines brand anyway. The Belgian public was really in favour of the Brussels airlines brand and would never accept the pale and shabby Eurowings name and corporate image. Belgian plane spotters consider these two aircraft as hybrids that will probably not last for long.

  5. +1 on Africa network. There, Brussels is still seen as a legacy carrier and more respected than the European low cost carriers

  6. I agree about the Africa network.

    If the LH group do not maintain their position they will be handing it over to Air France although then again on many routes in Europe the introduction of Eurowings on routes has handed premium traffic to the competitors anyway such is the confused world of Lufthansa.

  7. can anyone even find brussels airlines transatlantic award availability – am struggling to see any dates in the next year?
    is there any pattern?

  8. The only LH strategy that has worked for that genius Spohr was to persuade the German government that LCC air fares are too low and to impose a floor on price. I honestly wouldnt be surprised to see LH gone in 10 years.

  9. I took a Brussels Airlines flight recently, that was operated by CSA, on behalf of Eurowings. Brussels Airlines ticketing and service, CSA crew, Eurowings written on the outside of the plane. Seriously confusing

  10. The short haul A320 was in a hybrid livery of Air Berlin and Lauda when Brussels took it. I saw it in their hangar on the 23rd of May with it due to be repainted to Eurowings that week. At the time the plan was still to fold Brussels into Eurowings. So at the time the decision was made and actioned the paint scheme made sense. However, given that the plan has changed but that it costs a lot to repaint an aircraft my guess is it will remain like this for some time until it is repainted and whilst this will cause consumer confusion as happened here a large majority of the fleet are in the right livery and Eurowings is at least a lot closer than Air Berlin/Lauda were.

  11. Well, if you take the definition of the Oxford Dictionary, “Strategy is a plan of action designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim”, there is no such thing at LH Group in respect of Brussels or Eurowings.

    They had the weird idea to combine the leading full service carrier for Africa with the most miserable LCC within Europe (which had a strategy to go long haul, abandoned partially earlier). No idea why they designed such weird strategies in first place … but finally, earlier this year, the LH Board pulled the plug and the development of a new strategy was announced. However, there’s no indication that the new strategy has yet been approved.

    So there really is no strategy.

    Now everyone wonders if LH Group actually has any strategy at all, in particular after the announcement of the recent changes to their FFP …

  12. Like Paul Lammens said above, Lufthansa was supposed to end the Brussels Airlines brand and incorporate it in Eurowings brand. Then they changed their minds and decided to keep the brand afterall…and that’s the reason of that mess with liveries and plane ownership.

  13. Being German and depend on a lot of routes (especially inside Europe) I can say that there is not strategy. EW should compete on the hand with the ultra low cost carriers but does on the same hand a lot of connection flights for LH into Europe/Germany. The chaos with Brussels airlines just completed the mess. To Southern Europe / Turkey is even worse. You book LH -> you get an operated by EW And on the flight you end up with Sunexpress

  14. It’s not that uncommon. BA use a lesser known charter Spanish outfit called Evelop who operate the A330 and Air Belgium A340 both aircraft of which are not operated by mainstream BA.

  15. Why are Africans still flying this airline thar refused to compensate us for delaying us more than 13 hours and not giving us a meal or even drinks?

  16. Hi, here are some explanations about this confusing topic:

    1) The original plan was to have Brussels Airlines integrated in the Eurowings brand
    2) Because of this the OO-SSN and SFB were painted in Eurowings colours.
    3) Lufthansa then canceled the integration and wants Brussels Airlines as a full and independent daughter company, like Swiss and Austrian.
    3) Therefore Brussels Airlines must go through a major restructuring program to get profitable to fit in the Lufthansa Group, and painting planes is not a high enough priority right now.
    3) Confusingly enough, Brussels Airlines still operates flights FOR Eurowings from Dusseldorf, with Brussels Airlines painted A330’s, EW painted A330’s, and EW painted A340’s.

    All the flights from BRU are 100% flown and operated by Brussels airlines.

    Hope this clears that up!

    Cheers

  17. @D nailed it. SN exists because of the African routes.

    I expect the A330 livery issue is a byproduct of LH changing their mind but, being German, recognizing that taking an aircraft out of service for an expensive and operationally unnecessary repaint doesn’t make sense until, at the very least, they’re confident in their branding plan.

  18. Is this really an issue? I’ve flown Eurowings plenty of times and if I’m flying the Lufthansa group, I realize that Eurowings will likely be the connecting flight for any of the major four but especially Austrian or Brussels because their network isn’t as extensive as Lufthansa or Swiss.

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