Lufthansa is to merge short haul flights outside its main hubs into the low cost Germanwings arm in a drive for profitability.

The Lufthansa brand will eventually exclusively apply to hub and long-haul operations from Frankfurt and Munich, while Germanwings will be used for all short-haul flights between other airports.

The move is designed to make short-haul operations outside its main hubs profitable by 2015.

Business class will be scrapped on services switched to Germanwings.

The expanded division, which will operate almost three times as many aircraft as the current 32 when it starts in January, will be headed by Germanwings chief executive Thomas Winkelmann.

Lufthansa chief executive Christoph Franz said: “For several years we have been loss-making outside our hubs.

“We are separating the two business models: that of the hub carrier from the point-to-point operations.”

The expanded Germanwings will remain a low-cost carrier, with no business class seating, Franz said.