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Lufthansa to Ground 150 Aircraft; Says the Decision Reflects the “Extraordinary Circumstances” Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

Lufthansa to Ground 150 Aircraft; Says the Decision Reflects the “Extraordinary Circumstances” Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

German flag carrier Lufthansa has confirmed plans to ground as many as 150 aircraft as it slashes capacity because of a massive slump in demand prompted by the global Coronavirus outbreak. Sources had earlier leaked the plans to Reuters before a spokesperson for the airline confirmed the details as accurate.

“We are dynamically adjusting our plans to reflect extraordinary circumstances,” a short statement to Reuters read. The spokesperson added that 25 of the grounded jets would be long-haul widebody aircraft – up from the 23 long-haul aircraft the airline had previously said would not be operational.

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Photo Credit: Lufthansa

The number of grounded planes represents nearly 20 per cent of the Lufthansa Group’s total fleet of 770 aircraft. At the end of February, Lufthansa said it would reduce capacity on short and medium-haul routes by as much as 25 per cent “depending on the further development of the spread of the coronavirus”.

Lufthansa said it was too early to say what financial impact the Coronavirus outbreak would yet have on its business. A further update is expected on March 19 when the airline publishes its annual financial results.

The airline has already suspended recruitment and stopped some training courses for new hire staff mid-way through, telling the employees that their contracts had been withdrawn.

Other employees have also been asked to take unpaid leave as the airline attempts to find savings of as much as 20 per cent. A slew of other airlines have also asked employees to take unpaid leave as demand for air travel takes a beating. Earlier today, Finnair announced plans to put employees on unpaid leave for between 14-30 days at a time.

Lufthansa has cancelled flights to mainland China and Iran and has also reduced capacity on a number of European routes as the COVID-19 outbreak spreads across the continent. Worst affected is Italy where the number of cases has gone above 2,500 and reported deaths from the virus leaped to 80.

In Germany, a total of 188 cases had been identified as of Wednesday morning. The country has so far had no deaths linked to the Coronavirus outbreak.

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