The introduction of “low-cost carriers” has seen a dramatic drop in the price of airfares, making it possible to fly long distances for just a few hundred dollars, or short distances for less than the cost of the cab to the airport! But when it comes to cheap flights to Europe, there have traditionally been very few cheaper options, or none at all.
There is no shortage of low-cost airlines flying between Australia and Asia. Scoot, Jetstar, Air Asia and Tiger Airways all offer cheap flights. In fact, with so much competition, even legacy carriers such as Qantas and Malaysia Airlines are now offering very competitive prices through their sales. However there have not traditionally been options for passengers to fly from Asia to Europe using low-cost airlines.
A few years ago this changed when low-cost airline Norwegian Air Shuttle began long-haul service using a fleet of Boeing 787s between their Scandinavian hubs and Bangkok, among other destinations. Travelling between Europe and Asia for just a few hundred dollars became possible! This also made cheap travel to Europe from Australia a real possibility. By getting a cheap flight to Bangkok, then booking onward travel to Europe with Norwegian, it would now be possible to travel all the way to Europe using budget carriers.
Last week, Lufthansa’s brand new low-cost subsidiary Eurowings announced it will also fly to Asia, offering twice-weekly service between the German city of Cologne and both Bangkok and Phuket using A330 aircraft. Flights will begin just before Christmas this year and prices will start at the equivalent of just under $300 one-way. A dummy search for a round-trip from Bangkok to Cologne shows flights available for just $582 return! At this price, one wouldn’t get much more than a seat. Naturally, as a low-cost carrier, Eurowings will charge extra for things like a suitcase, meals and a choice of seat. However even with all of those included, the base price is barely over $700 round-trip. For such a long trip, these prices are very low and offer a new way to get from Asia to Europe very cheaply.
From an Australian perspective, the Cologne-Bangkok route might be interesting for some to catch a cheap ride to Europe (in conjunction with a cheap JQ flight AU-BKK). They will fly from/to DMK though, twice a week. Fares bookable at this stage (I checked late Jan 2016) are ~$290 each way.
With low-cost flights between Australia and Thailand often on sale for less than $400 return, this opens up the possibility of flying to Europe and back for under a grand! It would be necessary to book two separate tickets and a stopover in Bangkok may be required but in theory it could work, particularly outside of peak travel times. Typically, economy class flights to Europe cost anything from $1,500 to $2,500 so this is significantly cheaper than anything the legacy carriers can offer.
Great for backpackers.
Though I do wonder if it can be profitable over that distance at that price!
One other advantage of flying low-cost carriers such as Eurowings or Norwegian Air Shuttle to Europe is that they use one-way pricing – i.e. you are not penalised for booking one-way, instead of return flights.
You can join in the Eurowings discussion HERE.