The Lufthansa Group says it has been “forced” to cancel its services to Tel Aviv and Eilat in southern Israel over tough new entry restrictions imposed by Israeli authorities to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The cancellations will affect Lufthansa, as well as its subsidiaries Austrian Airlines and SWISS until at least March 28.
The decision follows an order from Israel’s Health Ministry that bars foreign nationals from France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain and Austria from entering Israel unless they can prove they can be placed in home quarantine for 14-days. Israeli citizens arriving from these countries will also be placed in quarantine.
In a statement, Lufthansa said the “extended refusal of entry of the Israeli authorities” would lead to a “considerable drop in demand” because “many passengers are no longer entitled to enter the country.”
Lufthansa had already slashed its short-haul European schedule by 25 per cent or 7,100 flights in March owing to a massive slump in demand because of the Coronavirus outbreak. The airline group has grounded 150 of its aircraft – representing around 20 per cent of its 770 strong fleet.
Lufthansa has cancelled all of its flights to mainland China and Iran and has reduced frequencies to Hong Kong and Seoul, South Korea. Services to and from Italy have also been cut back in response to the outbreak.
The airline says it’s not yet possible to estimate the economic impact of COVID-19 but that it will provide a further update on March 19. Yesterday, the International Air Transport Association said the outbreak could cost airlines as much as $113 billion in lost revenues in 2020.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.