German carrier Eurowings has more than flirted with the idea of flight connections. While its big brother Lufthansa delivers the traditional hub-and-spoke model at its Frankfurt and Munich bases, Eurowings has successfully introduced same airline connections within its network at some of Germany’s other airports. This Eurowings to Eurowings offer has been particularly successful connecting regional points across Europe with a low-fare and many cases more convenient connection than via traditional hub airports.
This platform has now gone up to a whole new level with Eurowings now offering virtual interlining options and permitting passengers to link external airline itineraries with its own flights. Initially it will distribute flights of fellow LCC Norwegian and Turkish leisure specialist SunExpress, the latter also part of the Lufthansa Group empire through a joint venture with Turkish Airlines.
The new ‘virtual interlining’ distribution system is housed under the newly developed Eurowings Flight Platform (EFP), a booking platform that has been developed in conjunction with Lufthansa Innovation Hub. This links Eurowings’ own airfares with offers from other airlines without any cooperation between them, enabling bookings in a single seamless process.
The big issue with virtual interlining is who is responsible for the passenger should they miss their connection and it is something that has put many airlines off developing such connection. Under the EFP scenario, any passenger who misses their connecting service, will be rebooked via the EFP without any additional costs, says Eurowings, highlighting they will be taking the full risk in this case.
EFP is the “next step in positioning eurowings.com as a comprehensive travel companion”, according to the carrier. “We are gradually expanding eurowings.com into a travel companion that meets every traveller’s needs. The smooth networking of transport providers on the ground and in the air is an essential part of this”, its digital managing director Oliver Schmitt explains.
The new platform is already opening new connection options to the Eurowings platform, whether that is connecting Scandinavia via Germany to Mexico or Turkey via Düsseldorf to the USA. It highlights a growing industry move to a virtual interlining product that is under consideration not just by airlines, but at airports too.
Following the integration of renowned mobility providers such as Flixbus and mytaxi into the airline’s app, the Eurowings Flight platform is a significant step in turning eurowings.com into not just an airline’s digital portal but a retail platform and travel site.
This concept of combining airline offers was developed at the Lufthansa Innovation Hub, the central digitisation unit of the Lufthansa Group in Berlin, in cooperation with experts from Eurowings new Digital business and is the first offer of its kind from a German airline.
Eurowings launched its Eurowings Digital travel company last year with the aim to offer a personalised range of digital services, including hotel bookings, rental cars and event tickets, integrating the current website into a wider digital travel platform as part of a strategy to drive forward its eCommerce activities and maximise potential income from its passengers.
The technological for the EFP’s search and combination of the third-party flights comes from a third party, the Icelandic company Dohop, which is establishing itself as one of the leading innovators in this field. For now EFP’s success is only restricted by the limited number of airliner partners currently available, but Eurowings confirms that “further airlines will be integrated” in the course of the year, expanding the available route network and connection options still further.