Low-cost airline Germanwings had clean safety record
Germanwings, the low-cost airline owned by German flag carrier Lufthansa, said that none of its aircraft has ever been involved in a crash prior to Tuesday's loss of an Airbus A320 in the French Alps.
"We've never had a total loss of aircraft in the company's history until now," a company spokeswoman told AFP.
An Airbus A320 belonging to Germanwings en route from Barcelona in Spain to Duesseldorf in Germany disappeared from radar screens on Tuesday with 144 passengers and six crew on board.
The last fatal crash of a Lufthansa plane also involved an A320 that caught fire on landing near Warsaw in September 1993, killing two people and injuring 54.
The jet that went down Tuesday in France was bought by Lufthansa in 1991 and been in constant service since then, passing to Germanwings in January 2014, the company said.
Germanwings is the low-cost subsidiary of Lufthansa and is currently being expanded by the parent company to handle most of its domestic and European flights, taking off and landing at airports other than Lufthansa's two main hubs in Frankfurt and Munich.
With its trademark yellow and purple colours, it originally started life as part of Eurowings, another Lufthansa subsidiary, but became a separate company in 2002.
Lufthansa fully acquired the Cologne-based subsidiary in 2009.
Its fleet of 78 aircraft comprises Airbus A320-200 and A319-100 jets, but also Bombardier CRJ900s and they fly under both the Germanwings and Eurowings colours.
Germanwings operates at costs 20 percent below those of Lufthansa.
It serves 130 different destinations.
In 2012, it emerged that there had been a serious incident involving one of Germanwings' aircraft at the end of 2010, when pilots were badly affected by fumes and complained of a burning smell in the cockpit as the plane approached Cologne airport.
Germanwings was accused of playing down the incident.
The low-cost carrier has around 2,000 employees and carried around 16 million passengers in the year to July 2014.
Germanwings succeeded in narrowing its losses in 2014, despite financial fallout from a pilots strike, and hopes to break even for the first time in 2015.
© 2015 AFP