Lufthansa is to park up an additional 125 aircraft for the winter season in a move that will shrink the airline’s active fleet to levels not seen since the 1970s. Last week, the German flag carrier said it would operate just 25 per cent of its pre-pandemic schedule but in a glum weekend update, chief executive Carsten Spohr shared even worse news with staffers in an internal email.
Forced to suspend the vast majority of its operation in the Spring when Europe and many other countries were plunged into lockdown, Lufthansa saw a welcome uptick in demand through a short-lived Summer season. New bookings, however, have fallen off a cliff edge as a second wave of COVID-19 sweeps across Europe and North America.
“Winter will be an even bigger challenge,” Sphor told employees in the internal email first sighted by Reuters on Sunday. “We managed to reduce cash burn from 1 million euros every hour when the pandemic started to ‘only’ 1 million euros every two hours now. Still, that hasn’t changed the drama of the situation,” the email continued.
“It is unavoidable to ramp down operations during the winter of 2020/21 even further and to put as many areas as possible in ‘hibernation’ from mid-December,” Sphor explained.
The majority of employees will remain on a government-funded short working hours programme. The airline indicated that admin staff will be asked to work from home until the second quarter of 2021, with Lufthansa planning to temporarily shutter some offices as part of new cost-cutting measures.
Negotiations continue with some working groups as Lufthansa seeks concessions and agreements on redundancies. Deals have already been done with cabin crew and temporary agreement with pilots will delay any lay-offs until 2021 at the earliest.
Last month, Lufthansa said it would send its entire fleet of 14 Airbus A380s into longterm storage. The double-deck aircraft may never fly again commercially for Lufthansa unless there is an “unexpected” and “rapid market recovery”.
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.