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Germanwings Opts for Berlin Schönefeld as New Base

Germanwings has chosen a new base at Berlin Schönefeld airport as part of its ambitious
plans for growth. After Cologne/Bonn and Stuttgart, this will be the third
German base for the low-cost airline.  A total of four aircraft will fly to
and from the airport, two of which will be permanently stationed at the new
base.  Bookings open at 1pm GMT today (11th March) at
Eight new routes will be launched on 5th June 2005.

Speaking at the opening of the ITB tourism fair in Berlin, Germanwings
chairman Dr Joachim Klein commented that the initial schedule in Berlin is
almost as big as it was in Cologne/Bonn two and a half years ago.

Alongside the existing destinations of Cologne/Bonn and Stuttgart, the
Berlin schedule includes flights to Ankara, Düsseldorf, Istanbul, Munich,
Split, Stockholm and Zagreb, operating under the 4U code. Bookings for the
Moscow route will open shortly.

Fares for single tickets start at 13 GBP including all taxes and fees. Said
Dr Klein: ‘The same will apply in Berlin as elsewhere - ten to fifteen per
cent of all seats on all flights will be available at our budget rates.
Customers can also look forward to creative promotions like our previous
Crazy Nights and Blind Booking campaigns.’

The Berlin launch follows a highly successful 2004 for the company, during
which the airline made a profit only two years after its first flight. Last
year, 3.5 million passengers flew with Germanwings (44 per cent up on 2003),
turnover was up 65 per cent (from 150m to 247m euros), and with average
loads of over 82 per cent over the year the attractive range of fares proved
to be very popular.


Rapid growth remains a priority at Germanwings for the current year. The
inclusion of a third hub in Berlin will see the fleet grow from the present
15 to 20 aircraft.  This year, the low-cost airline is anticipating
passenger volume of five to six million, with budgeted seat occupancy on
flights up from 82% to 84%. Targeted turnover is over 350m euros. With the
extra five aircraft, an increase in the workforce from around 460 at the end
of 2004 to 600-650 people this year is on the cards. This will put
Germanwings among Germany’s fastest-growing companies.

The third hub will bring the north-eastern part of the Federal Republic into
Germanwings’s back yard. As Dr Klein observes, ‘The Berlin launch changes
the company from a regional into a national player. That gives us the
benefit of numerous synergies. We can now make Germanwings a nationwide
brand. The Berlin base has symbolic importance for us. In 2005, we can
adhere to our path of rapid, systematic growth not only in Cologne/ Bonn and
Stuttgart but in the capital as well, creating new jobs in Berlin into the

A major factor in the company’s development is the use of the Internet as
the principal sales platform. Last year, the web accounted for around 94% of
all tickets sold. The Germanwings website, with a steady
2.5 - 3m visits per month, has become the leading German travel portal in
the no-frillls airline sector and has established itself among the top ten
German travel pages. In the present year, the website is due to be further
expanded as a marketing platform, offering all customer groups from families
to business travellers an extensive palette of products for individual
holiday planning at attractive prices. Says Germanwings MD Dr Andreas
Bierwirth: ‘Our website will shortly become even more essential reading. We
are launching a premium scheme jointly with the Intercontinental Hotels
Group offering our customers a range of price benefits, and these will be
always posted on our website.’

travel portal is a traveller’s cornucopia offering
special rates for hotels, package deals, hire cars and travel-related
services appealing to everyone from families to business travellers, with a
product palette for individual and good-value travel planning. Dr Bierwirth
observes that marketing revenues were already into seven figures in 2004,
and this year should see a doubling of revenues, making Germanwings the
market leader in the low-cost sector in this respect, too. A particularly
gratifying parallel development is the growth in group travel.

Also progressing well is the Germanwings co-operation with Centralwings, the
no-frills subsidiary of Polish airline LOT launched at the beginning of the
year. Between them, the two carriers already dominate the low-cost end of
the German-Polish air travel market. At the beginning of March, Centralwings
launched a new route between Hanover and Warsaw, and from April the airline
will be flying between Cologne/Bonn and Katowice.

Meantime Germanwings chairman Dr Klein had a sharp word about new plans to
introduce a kerosene tax. ‘The additional tax will make not only holidays
but also business travel more expensive. Restricting mobility means holding
back economic development. Our range of good-value fares is particularly
helpful for small businesses, which in the past have kept the German economy
afloat through boom times and recessions alike.’ The airline chief demanded
equality of treatment for all market participants in every forum. ‘If we
don’t have a resolution that applies uniformly throughout Europe, we’ll be
getting tank tourism to Switzerland or Eastern Europe.’