THURSDAY 4 FEB 2016 11:44 AM


One of the most chilling aviation disasters in history occurred in March 2015, when a co-pilot deliberately flew a Germanwings aeroplane, bound for Düsseldorf, into a mountain of the French Alps, killing all 150 people on board.

Corporate response to the disaster was one of the most solemn and well-conducted in aviation history. Furthermore, the airline company has now changed its fleet to be known as Eurowings.

Following the incident, the company reacted quickly to remove all ‘inappropriate’ Germanwings marketing channels, as well as the advertising slogans which had, up until that point, adorned the interior of London Underground trains and tunnels. In June 2015, Germanwings CEO Thomas Winkelmann also transferred to Austrian Airlines, another group owned by Lufthansa.

Operating from its headquarters in Cologne, the new Eurowings communication channels have taken care to ensure its new branding has replaced the defunct Germanwings name. Its Twitter channel is bright and appealing and the visual identity on its revamped website is centred around ‘die neue Eurowings’ (‘the new Eurowings’).

The brand shift also occurred for logistical purposes. Keeping two short-haul airlines, owned by the same parent company and essentially offering the same service made little sense in an increasingly competitive European aviation market. While plans to take on the Eurowings name were in the pipeline even before the disaster occurred, it has been suggested that the change was accelerated due to negative associations with the Germanwings name.

Eurowings has recently opened a new base located in the Austrian capital, Vienna, and has expanded to include long-haul flights in its services. The new, universal name is better suited towards international operations.

When such high-profile incidents occur, appropriate crisis management can be the difference between a company succeeding, or a company failing to attract new investment. The random nature of this tragedy was unusual; the company name change came as one of several appropriate responses.