Already wet-leasing a mix of four A319-100/A320-200s from Eurowings Europe (E2, Vienna) from January 1, 2020, Austrian Airlines (OS, Vienna) is in discussion with the low-cost carrier to expand the deal, according to statements made by Eurowings Europe's managing director to Air Transport World.

According to ch-aviation analysis of Austrian schedule data, one 150-seat A319-100 will predominantly be deployed between Vienna and Rome Fiumicino operating up to 15x weekly on the route starting January 1. Three 174-seat A320-200s will operate to Barcelona El Prat (12x weekly), Cologne/Bonn (up to 9x weekly), Copenhagen Kastrup (up to 7x weekly), Düsseldorf Int'l (daily), Hamburg Helmut Schmidt (4x weekly), and Thessaloniki (3x weekly) from early January. They will also be used on daily services to Nice and Zadar starting March 29.

The two carriers' still-evolving strategy will see the Austrian national carrier assume control of Eurowings Europe's network planning in Vienna. “We are already in talks to wet-lease even more than four planned aircraft to Austrian. Nothing has been decided yet. This is a learning process for both sides,” stated Eurowings Europe Managing Director Robert Jahn.

Employing 700 staff and with a fleet of 19 aircraft, the LCC has three more bases in addition to Vienna, where it has seven aircraft stationed, with units based units in Munich, Salzburg and Palma de Mallorca. Its Austrian regional base will grow from one to three based A319s next year, with the second unit arriving in March 2020, and then the third earmarked to begin its flights from May 2020. The extra capacity will allow it to operate 12 destinations from Salzburg next year, creating a total of 600,000 seats at the airport.

By contrast, Austrian has closed its Salzburg base, with one E195 transferring to Vienna, as its 28x weekly service to Frankfurt Int'l switched to a Lufthansa (LH, Frankfurt Int'l) operation from December 1. Austrian only maintains its 18x weekly service to the capital from Salzburg, when referring to the ch-aviation schedules module.

One of Austrian's key objectives in extending its partnership with Eurowings Europe is to avail of the LCC's lower operating costs. A source close to Eurowings indicated that its crew costs were typically 20% lower than those at Austrian. Its Palma-base flight crew costs are then 10-15% lower than those it achieves in the Austrian capital, meaning that the Spanish crews would have up to 35% lower costs compared to those at Austrian Airlines.