Austrian Airlines will temporarily suspend regular flight operations from Wednesday (18th March) until the 28th of March. The announcement comes as falling demand and increased travel bans are making it near impossible for airlines to continue normal operations.
Airlines around the world are increasingly feeling the struggle of the coronavirus pandemic. Austria has 860 confirmed cases of the virus as of the time of writing. Now, Austrian Airlines will suspend operations for initially just over a week, although this will likely be extended. Just two aircraft will remain in service for emergency and relief flights.
Last service from Chicago
The last service Austrian Airlines will operate before its suspension will be from Chicago. Flight OS 66 will depart from Chicago O’Hare at 17:20. It will then touch back down in Vienna at 08:20 on the morning of the 19th of March 2020.
Following this flight, Austrian Airlines will cancel all flights until the 28th of March. However, as this suspension is just 10 days long, it is possible that it could be further extended. During the duration of the flight suspension, Austrian will rebook passengers on other airlines if it is possible.
Only two aircraft remain
Only two aircraft will remain in service for the duration of the flight suspension. This will comprise of one medium-haul and one long-haul aircraft. Currently, the airline operates five families of aircraft. These are the A320 family, the Boeing 767 family, the Boeing 777 family, the De Havilland Dash 8 family, and the Embraer ERJ family. This is according to Planespotters.net.
These two Austrian Airlines aircraft will be used for exceptional operations. These include emergency flights and relief flights. These would likely take place in conjunction with the government to repatriate Austrian citizens, or to provide aid.
Austrian Airlines CEO, Alexis von Hoensbroech, said:
“As Austria’s national carrier, we are aware of our responsibility and will cooperate with the government and try to bring home as many Austrians as possible”
What if I’m due to travel?
If you’re due to travel with Austrian, don’t panic. Firstly, passengers should make sure that Austrian Airlines has their up to date contact information on the airline’s website. This will allow the airline to contact you about your booking.
Austrian has asked that all passengers not scheduled to fly within the next seven days to refrain from calling the airline to avoid congesting the phone lines. The airline will automatically rebook passengers where possible and says that this will be noted online under their booking reference within the next 48 hours. If it is not possible to rebook a passenger, their fares will be refunded.
Austrian Airlines has begun making preparations to relaunch operations as soon as possible once demand returns. However, when this will occur is not clear. The airline’s CEO commented:
“This is not a ‘goodbye’, it’s a ‘servus‘ and ‘see you later’.“
Were you due to fly with Austrian Airlines during this period? What are your thoughts on the suspension? Let us know in the comments.