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TUI Group launches its new no-frills airline

TUI<.> will enter the low-cost airline sector this year with the new brand name Hapag-Lloyd<.> Express

TUI<.> will enter the low-cost airline sector this year with the new brand name Hapag-Lloyd<.> Express. It will fly from Cologne/Bonn airport and serve European and domestic routes. A new 100 per cent subsidiary of TUI AG will be responsible for sales and operations. The flight operation will begin in the first year with eight Boeing 737-700s chartered from Germania Flugdienst GmbH. The TUI AG supervisory board approved this plan at yesterday`s meeting in Hanover.

Our strong aviation brand `Hapag-Lloyd` and the partner Germania, with whom we have had business relations for many years, form the launch pad from which we will participate rapidly and highly flexibly in the growing low-cost aviation segment, explained TUI AG executive board chairman, Dr. Michael Frenzel in Hanover. With `Hapag-Lloyd Express` we will take up a leading position among the low-cost carriers thanks to a streamlined cost and organisational structure, a market-oriented price and distribution strategy, and clear route selection within Europe. According to the head of the company, the brand name of the new business model is a logical further development of the successful Group aviation brand Hapag-Lloyd. This name has been a symbol for aviation expertise and competence for the last 30 years.

The home airport will be Cologne/Bonn. Flights will start from here from the beginning of December. Destinations include attractive cities such as Barcelona, Milan, Paris and Rome. The route network is initially planned to include around 10 European destinations. The potential destinations flown to within Germany from Cologne/Bonn will initially include Berlin, Dresden and Munich. The benchmark prices are market-oriented and lie within a range from Euro 10,- per person per inner-German route and from Euro 25,- per person for European routes.

Our pan-European route network will include domestic as well as European cities with high levels of tourism and business travel potential. We plan to exclusively serve these cities with point-to-point traffic at high frequencies. Located within the enormous catchment area of Northrhine-Westphalia, Cologne/Bonn airport provides the ideal starting position for our strategy, added Frenzel. The already existing low-cost activities of Germania will be integrated within the route network of Hapag-Lloyd Express. A passenger volume of around 1.3 million is planned in the first full financial year.

Work will be carried out in the coming weeks to create the distribution structures because the flights will already be bookable by the middle of October. The tickets for Hapag-Lloyd Express will not only be sold via the internet and call centres. Our strategy is for a streamlined multi-channel distribution operation, and we also plan to incorporate our travel agency partners. We are currently developing viable solutions to achieve this, explained Frenzel. Hapag-Lloyd Express will therefore be the first no-frills airline in Germany selling its tickets via the classic travel agency channel.

The Boeing 737-700s from Germania will have the new colour design of Hapag-Lloyd Express. They have an average age of around four years and there are 148 seats in each aircraft.

Theodore Koumelis
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Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.