In a press statement released yesterday, Austrian Airlines has confirmed that it is temporarily suspending flight operations through May 3rd, 2020. The extension is due to the restrictions being imposed by governments around the world to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. The decision to lengthen the grounding of Austrian aircraft comes after several counties announced that they were further extending lockdowns to help defeat COVID-19.
The Star Alliance member also announced that it would be delaying its new route to Boston, Massachusetts, in the United States due to American travel restrictions.
Freight flights will continue
“It goes without saying that we will continue to carry out our repatriation and freight flights for medical supplies”, says Austrian Airlines CCO Andreas Otto.
Since the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus, the Austrian national flag carrier has repatriated more than 6,000 stranded citizens on behalf of the Austrian Federal Government. As well as the rescue flights, Austrian Airlines has carried 180 tons of protective clothing from China and Malaysia to be distributed amongst the nation’s frontline health workers.
In the press release, Austrian also announced that a Boeing 767 aircraft had departed Vienna International Airport on Saturday to pick up a further 13 tons of protective medical clothing. In addition to this, a long-haul Boeing 777 will depart on Sunday to rescue Austrian and other European citizens trapped in the Nigerian capital of Abuja.
“The precise time when regular flight operations are resumed remains to be seen and depends more on the underlying conditions than on us”, CCO Andreas Otto states. “We continue to stand ready for a new and slow re-launch.”
Re-booking possibilities and waiver policy for passengers
With regards to re-booking and waivers, Austrian Airlines has announced that it will offer passengers an extended waiver policy. Anyone holding a ticket with a departure date before next year – April 30, 2021, that was booked or will be booked before April 19, 2020, can be held in abeyance. Passengers will also be given the chance to rebook their flights with a different travel date (start of the new trip up to April 30, 2021) and, as the case may be, to a different destination.
In addition to this, if a passenger’s rebooked flight takes place before December 31, 2020, they will receive an extra 50 euro’s to the value of the ticket.
To do this, passengers must contact the Austrian Airlines Service Center or the travel agent where they purchased the ticket.
Do not call the Service Center unless it is urgent
To avoid burdening the hotline, Austrian Airlines is asking passengers to refrain from calling if their flight was not scheduled for some time during the next seven days. By doing this, it will allow Austrian Airlines the chance to prioritize the needs of passengers who were due to fly in the upcoming days.