Lufthansa has seen a surge in bookings as the holiday season approaches. Some destinations served by the airline saw a 400% increase in bookings week on week last week. The airline is adding new flights and increasing frequencies to meet demand, including to holiday destinations.
While all airlines have been suffering due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a second wave has significantly impacted aviation’s recovery in Europe. Indeed, airlines have continued trimming their schedules due to increasing travel restrictions. One example is British Airways, which has suspended its Heathrow-Frankfurt route until mid-January.
Flexibly adjusting the schedule
To cope with increasing demand, Lufthansa is flexibly adjusting its schedule to accommodate passengers where demand exists. The airline has seen extremely high demand for European destinations, as well as some further afield. However, there has been a concentration of demand over the holiday period.
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The South African destinations of Cape Town and Johannesburg, as well as Mediterranean and Canary Islands destinations, saw exceptionally high demand as people search for some winter sun.
Commenting on the increase in demand, Harry Hohmeister, member of the Executive Board of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, said,
“The longing to travel is great worldwide. As soon as travel restrictions fall, we see a significant increase in bookings. This is especially true for the vacation season around Christmas and New Year… we want to fulfill our guests’ vacation dreams wherever possible.”
A delicate balancing act
Of course, resuming flights following the pandemic is a delicate balancing act for all airlines. On the one hand, airlines want to serve passengers where demand exists. After all, if you can fill a plane enough to make money on a flight, it makes sense.
However, on the other hand, if airlines resume flights before demand exists, then they could be faced with flying a mostly empty plane. While aircraft are not earning money while they’re not flying, operating a primarily empty flight could cost more money than not flying at all. Many airlines continue to run minimal schedules across Europe as the second wave, and its consequences have decimated travel demand.
Of course, you could think, “why not just cancel empty flights?” Unfortunately, it isn’t so simple for airlines, especially in the EU. Under the rules of EU261, while no compensation is due if the cancellation is more than 14 days before the flight, the airline still has to get passengers to their destination if they so wish. This can mean rebooking passengers on another carrier at the airline’s cost if they have no suitable replacement flights.
Are you planning to travel over the holiday season? Let us know where you’re flying and why in the comments!