Austrian Airlines Boss Says Demand Won’t Recover Until 2023

The CEO of Austrian Airlines has said that he does not see demand after the COVID-19 pandemic recovering until at least 2023. As the Lufthansa Group-owned airline prepares for operations after the coronavirus crisis is over, it issued a statement saying that it anticipated a huge drop off in business.

The last flight arrives in Vienna before Austrian grounded its fleet in March. Photo: Getty Images

Citing coronavirus restrictions in Austria and the closing of borders and quarantine restrictions abroad, the Vienna Airport-based airline last week extended the suspension of flights until May 3rd. Along with the grounding of its entire fleet, the Austrian national flag carrier announced that it is putting its 7,000 employees on short-time work.

Austrian initially suspended flights on March 19th

When the initial suspension of flight’s decision was made to halt operations from March 19th, Lufthansa Group CEO Carsten Spohr told Business Traveller,

“Now it is no longer about economic issues, but about the responsibility that airlines bear as part of the critical infrastructure in their home countries.”

Austrian Airlines CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech. Photo: Austrian Airlines

The statement from Austrian Airlines comes after the Austrian Federal Government announced on Tuesday that Austrian citizens’ complete freedom to travel is something that will not happen in the near future. With this in mind, Austrian Airlines is expecting summer travel in 2020 to be somewhere between 25-50% less than the same period the previous year.

As well as seeing a drop in passenger numbers this year, Austrian Airlines is anticipating a significant decline in 2021. It thinks it will not see pre-coronavirus numbers until at least 2023 at the earliest.

Austrian Airlines is planning for the future

Taking all these predictions into consideration, Austrian Airlines is now preparing for the challenging times ahead by coming up with a plan to match the new reality of reduced passenger numbers. On top of the reorientation of staff and routes, Austrian Airlines has entered talks with the Austrian Federal Government, its owner the Lufthansa Group and social partners to prepare for life after the current crisis has passed.

While commenting on what lies ahead Austrian Airlines CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech said,

“The world we will be flying into will be a different one. People will travel again, but the economy, tourism, and passenger needs will have changed after the Corona crisis. We will align our company to master this challenge.”

Austrian Airlines will downsize

The new strategy moving forward will include a reduction in fleet size and a review of staffing levels. With regards to how many cuts will need to be made, it is still a fluid situation. No firm decisions will be made until travel restrictions are lifted and the pandemic is over.

Our goal remains to maintain as many flight connections and as many jobs as possible”, says the Austrian CEO.

Austrian Airlines will look to downsize following the coronavirus crisis. Photo: Austrian Airlines

Despite reductions, Austrian Airlines intends to continue operating short-haul, as well as medium- and long-haul routes out of its Vienna hub. When talking further about this the Austrian Airlines boss added,

“We will do whatever is necessary to achieve this goal. That’s why the motto we set at the beginning of the crisis remains valid: The current shutdown is not a ‘Good Bye’ but a ‘See you later.”

What do you think about the Austrian boss’ predictions? Let us know in the comments.