The Lufthansa Group plans to restart regularly scheduled passenger flights to as many as 106 destinations in as little as three weeks as the airline looks to a post-Coronavirus future. Lufthansa, Eurowings and SWISS will restart normal operations but Austrian and Brussels Airlines will remain largely grounded during the initial restart phase according to the airline group.
“We sense a great desire and longing among people to travel again. Hotels and restaurants are slowly opening, and visits to friends and family are in some cases being allowed again,” explained Harry Hohmeister, a member of Lufthansa’s executive board.
“With all due caution, we are now making it possible for people to catch up and experience what they had to do without for a long time. It goes without saying that the safety and health of our guests and employees are of the highest priority,” he continued.
Yesterday, the parent company of Aer Lingus, British Airways and Iberia said it would resume a “meaningful” number of flights by July at the earliest. International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG) didn’t specify how many destinations would be served but cautioned that capacity could be at least 50 per cent less than originally planned.
Qatar Airways has also set out a roadmap for resuming services with initial plans to serve 50 destinations by the end of May. The Doha-based airline says it hopes to increase that number to 80 at some point in June – although, a spokesperson noted that these plans were subject to regulatory approvals, as well as the easing of lockdowns and travel restrictions.
Lufthansa initially hopes to serve summer vacation destinations like Mallorca, Sylt, Rostock and Crete so that German and Swiss holidaymakers can take an overseas break without travelling too far. The airline group will double the number of planes in operational service to 160 – but that only represents 20 per cent of Lufthansa’s total fleet.
On Thursday, Lufthansa confirmed it was in continuing talks with the German government to secure a €10 billion taxpayer-funded bailout. The bailout could result in the government taking a 25 per cent stake in Lufthansa – a condition that chief executive Carsten Spohr had been trying to avoid.
Spohr believes recovery could be slow and difficult with passenger demand not expected to reach pre-Coronavirus levels until 2023. The same assessment has been shared by IAG and United Airlines.
In the last week, several European countries have partially eased Coronavirus lockdown measures and there is increasing talk about recovering part of the Summer tourism season on the continent. Germany has gone the furthest in easing its lockdown restrictions but Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she has the power to apply “an emergency brake” is virus transmission rises too fast.
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.