Eurowings Competes On Pristina-Zurich Against Group Party SWISS

Eurowings has launched a new route between Zurich and Pristina last week. In doing so, Eurowings has become a competitor to Edelweiss Air, the sister airline of SWISS. All three airlines are part of the Lufthansa Group, so SWISS’ unions are not happy about the development.

SWISS Airbus
Eurowings now competes with SWISS on the Zurich-Pristina route, despite them both being owned by Lufthansa Group. Photo: Getty Images

Eurowings enters a market served by SWISS

Last week, the low-cost airline of Lufthansa Group, Eurowings, launched a new route between Kosovo and Switzerland under the following timetable:

  • Flight EW6624 departs Pristina (PRN) at 12:35 and arrives in Zurich (ZRH) at 14:50
  • Flight EW6625 departs ZRH at 15:35 and arrives in PRN at 17:40

The route is scheduled to operate once weekly, on Sundays. The first flight was on Sunday 14th November. Flights are currently scheduled to run with Airbus A320 aircraft.

What makes this new route launch particularly interesting is that the market between Kosovo and Switzerland is already served by Lufthansa Group. Lufthansa’s Swiss airlines, SWISS and Edelweiss, are well-established in Kosovo.

In fact, Edelweiss sees so much demand between Pristina and Zurich that it runs Airbus A340 flights to Kosovo during the peak summer months. This year, Edelweiss deployed its Airbus A340-300 on the route between early July and late August every Monday, Thursday, and Friday. In 2020, the A340 flew to Pristina as often as twice daily in August.

The Pristina-Zurich route is being operated by a Eurowings Europe aircraft that is not based in Switzerland but in the airline’s Kosovo base. This is not atypical: Eurowings operates flights to Zurich from Cologne, Dusseldorf, and Hamburg from other bases. There are no aircraft based in Zurich.

A Eurowings A320 aircraft based in Kosovo operates the route between Zurich and Pristina. Photo: Getty Images

SWISS staff are reportedly unhappy

The entry of Lufthansa Group’s low-cost unit, Eurowings, into the Switzerland-Kosovo market has reportedly left Swiss labor unions unhappy, Luzerner Zeitung reports.

The reason for their discontent is that SWISS has received 1.3 billion Swiss Francs ($1.4 billion) in state aid as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic for the purpose of keeping the airline afloat and helping it retain sufficient liquidity to maintain its route network.

The unions representing SWISS cabin crew had previously voiced their discontent with the Lufthansa Group when two Airbus A330 aircraft were transferred from SWISS’s leisure arm, Edelweiss, to the new airline of the Lufthansa Group, Eurowings Discover.

The union is now noting similarities between Edelweiss losing aircraft to Eurowings and the news that Eurowings will fly to Pristina and compete directly against SWISS.

In fact, the president of the cabin crew union, Sandrine Nikolic-Fuss, was quoted as saying:

“The fact that Lufthansa operates flights to and from Switzerland with its low-cost airline is shocking.”

Eurowings Airbus A330 Getty
Two Airbus A330 aircraft were transferred from Edelweiss to Eurowings Discover. Photo: Getty Images

What next?

Signs are emerging that the SWISS cabin crew will eventually raise this issue with the Swiss state, requiring it to assess whether Eurowings’ new route from Pristina to Zurich breaks the terms SWISS agreed to when it received state aid.

As part of the state aid agreement, it was posed to the Lufthansa Group that aviation growth in Switzerland must not be neglected in comparison to the Group’s network development in Germany.

What do you think of Eurowings entering the market between Switzerland and Kosovo?