Germany’s Lufthansa says it will cancel more than 1,000 flights between now and the end of July because it can no longer reasonably hope to fly its summer schedule as planned. The airline is the latest to drastically scale back an ambitious flying programme supercharged by a rapid return in travel demand but constrained by staff shortages.
Flight cancellations will affect Lufthansa’s short-haul flights, as well as European flights operated by its discount subsidiary Eurowings. The airline has suggested that some affected passengers would be better off getting the train rather than trying to get rebooked on alternative fligts.
“The entire aviation industry, especially in Europe, is currently suffering from bottlenecks and staff shortages,” the airline group said in a statement. “This applies to airports, ground transport services, air traffic control and also airlines.”
A spokesperson said Lufthansa had already taken measures to stabilise its schedule but anticipated bottlenecks necessitated a reduction in the flying programme over the busy summer holiday period.
Lufthansa has wiped around 9,000 domestic German and intra-European flights over the next two months, while Eurowings is axing “several hundred” flights. Most of the cancellations are over weekends and represent around 5 per cent of Lufthansa’s planned schedule.
Europe’s aviation industry has seen demand snap back after pandemic restrictions were lifted but much of the demand is driven by leisure travellers. Airports and airlines have struggled to cope with the influx of passengers choosing to travel on Fridays, Saturday’s and Sunday’s leading to chaotic scenes in some European airports.
In recent weeks, Amsterdam Schiphol airport has asked airlines to artificially cap passenger numbers so that understaffed security checkpoints can stand any chance of coping. A similar request was made by London’s Heathrow airport as it scrambles to hire hundreds of additional staff.
Earlier this week, Frankfurt airport also publicly acknowledged that it had requested airlines cancel flights to “ensure stable operations” over the next few months.
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.