Digital strategy

CEO wants to turn Eurowings into an e-commerce ‘travel companion’

Eurowings CEO Thorsten Dirks plans to invest millions of euros to broaden the fast-growing Lufthansa low-cost airline into a travel supplier with its own flight operations.

May 16, 2018
Eurowings CEO Thorsten Dirks outlines his digital strategy to fvw.
Photo: fvw

The former long-serving telecoms executive, who moved into the aviation sector last year, told fvw in a wide-ranging interview: “We have the ambition to transform the entire Eurowings Group from a traditional airline to a digital platform with connected flight operations”. This would take 3-5 years, he believed.

The airline will set up a new subsidiary in Cologne under the name ‘Eurowings Digital’ at the end of this year to bundle its e-commerce activities and drive this digital expansion strategy. The unit will initially consist of some 30 staff already with the airline but could be expanded to about 150 specialists in future.

Chief Commercial Officer Oliver Wagner said “millions” will be invested in the new subsidiary “to bring together our digital sales power and expertise” and to “massively expand” the website.

Wagner also disclosed sales targets for the website. “Our revenues through already lie at about €1 billion and should increase to €1.5 billion this year.” He did not disclose any longer-term targets. Eurowings had total revenues of €4 billion last year.

In future, Eurowings wants to offer not only flights but also other personalised travel products and services, in particular through direct communications to some 40 million customers via the Eurowings app as well as through the website. “Whoever registers on our website and can then receive customised hotel bookings, car rentals, event tickets and much more will happily come back again,” Wagner commented.

Under the new EU travel package directive, offers of combined travel products, such as flight + hotel or flight + car rental, could well mean that Eurowings will act as a tour operator in future, experts noted. Other leisure airlines including Easyjet and Ryanair already sell package holidays through their websites.

In the interview with fvw, Eurowings CEO Dirks also emphasised the airline is currently managing “the biggest integration project in the history of German aviation” after taking over former Air Berlin unit LG Walter, adding Brussels Airlines and setting up Eurowings Europe in Vienna in recent months. This summer the Eurowings Group is operating 1,000 flights a day, about 40% more than last summer, with a fleet of 185 planes, including flights operated by subcontracted carriers.

Looking ahead, Dirks said Eurowings should become ‘the quality carrier’ in the fast-growing low-cost flights sector and would continue to grow next year, including outside its home markets of Germany, Austria and Belgium.

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