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Germanwings relaunches, takes over more Lufthansa routes

Lufthansa subsidiary Germanwings has officially announced its relaunch, which sees it taking over most of Lufthansa's German and European flights. The discount airline hopes to boost Lufthansa's profitability by 2015.

The planned move by Lufthansa to let Germanwings take over most of its European and German flights went into full effect on Monday. Germanwings had already taken over some of Lufthansa's short and medium-haul flights at the beginning of the year, but now the transition is complete. Lufthansa still operates some short- and medium-haul flights from its two hubs in Frankfurt and Munich.

In a statement on the Germanwings website, the company announced a "new Germanwings" that would offer customizable fares based on the needs of a travelers.

The "BEST" category is geared toward business travelers and offers the full range of amenities, including in-flight snacks, faster check-in, and more legroom included in the price.

"The 'SMART' fare includes some extra services and the possibility to purchase others," the Germanwings statement said. "The 'BASIC' fare is the purely low-cost category."

"'New Germanwings' aims at being even more attractive to our customers. We will be deveoping our mobile booking and information systems, thereby ensuring direct and spontaneous interaction with passengers," said the companies CEO Thomas Winkelmann in the statement.

He added the company would get a new logo.

The move by Lufthansa is seen as an effort to increase profits which have been continually shrinking in recent years. Revenue has increased, but high fuel costs and competition from other discount airliners have drastically cut into the German flagship carrier's profits.

By shifting flights to Germanwings - which has lower operating costs - Lufthansa is hoping to boost its profitability by 2015. The increased number of planes and routes for Germanwings means more flight staff will be needed, and trade union conflicts are already brewing as Germanwings staff earn considerably less than their Lufthansa counterparts.

mz/kms (dpa, AFP, Reuters)