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Business

Lufthansa Takes Germanwings Under Its Wing

No-frills airline Germanwings will become a direct subsidiary of airline giant Lufthansa from 2009, moving away from regional carrier Eurowings. The move is expected to enable the charter company to grow even further.

Respective company logos on Germanwings and Lufthansa jets

Germanwings is heading for further growth under the Lufthansa umbrella

Regional carrier Eurowings has announced that it has sold its stake in German budget airline Germanwings to Lufthansa.

"After a successful start-up phase, the building work on the low-cost airline is completed," said Eurowings chief executive Friedrich-Wilhelm Weitholz. Eurowings developed Germanwings from its charter division in 2002.

"Eurowings can now increasingly focus on its core business in the regional segment," Weitholz said.

Cement entrepreneur Albrecht Knauf, founder and co-owner of Dortmund-based Eurowings, is selling his 50 percent share in Germanwings to Lufthansa. The deal takes effect from Jan. 1, 2009. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The sale would mean "no immediate changes" for the airlines' operational activities, Weitholz said.

Germanwings will grow from within

Lufthansa holds a 49 percent stake in its affiliated regional operation Eurowings, although it already has management control of the carrier. It is in the process of acquiring majority ownership.

Friedrich-Wilhelm Weitholz in front of a Germanwings logo

Friedrich-Wilhelm Weitholz will be moving to the Eurowings supervisory board

Up to now, Germanwings has been a full subsidiary of Eurowings. Lufthansa will operate Germanwings under the umbrella company Lufthansa Commercial Holding.

Germanwings management spokesman Thomas Winkelmann called the takeover "a clear signal that Germanwings should play an important role" within Lufthansa.

According to Winkelmann, Germanwings will continue to grow from within.

"Our tactic is not to merge with other airlines by hook or by crook," Winkelmann said. He said he saw potential for growth in inner-German traffic, but above all for flights to Eastern Europe.

Germanwings currently has a fleet of 25 Airbus A319. In 2007, it transported some 8 million passengers, an increase of 12.5 percent from the previous year. Sales totaled 630 million euros ($808 million), up 12.7 percent.

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