The Lufthansa Group has announced an update for flights to mainland China and Hong Kong. Now, some flights with the Group’s airlines will not fly until as late as the end of the winter timetable. Other adjustments have been made to accommodate a diminished yet present demand for flights to Hong Kong.
The Lufthansa Group lengthens the mainland China restriction
In a statement on 14 February 2020, the Lufthansa Group said that it would not be flying to mainland China until the end of March. It means that Lufthansa, SWISS and Austrian Airlines will not operate flights to China until the end of the winter timetable. The Group had hoped to resume flights to China by 29 February 2020 but with new cases of coronavirus diagnosed every day and a cure yet to be found, this would have been unlikely.
The Group is working off the latest developments in the virus in order to ensure that it takes the appropriate measures to avoid contamination. In a statement, it said:
“The safety of its passengers and employees is a top priority for the Lufthansa Group. After a thorough evaluation of all currently available information on the effects of the novel corona virus, the Lufthansa Group has now decided to cancel the flights of Lufthansa, SWISS and Austrian Airlines from/to Beijing and Shanghai until the end of the winter timetable on 28 March. Initially they had been suspended until 29 February. Flights to Nanjing, Shenyang and Qingdao had already been suspended until the end of the winter timetable.”
The airline has taken the utmost precautionary strategy in mainland China, like many other airlines. Similar to many other airlines, it has yet to stop all flights into Hong Kong.
Hong Kong flights continue
According to its statement, the Lufthansa Group is still receiving a demand for flights to Hong Kong. Whilst this may be reduced, the group sees value in operating some of its flights if only slightly adjusted. SWISS will operate flights with smaller aircraft to Hong Kong in March, once the group lifts the restriction. By contrast, Lufthansa will have some of its flights to Hong Kong canceled.
So, what will this mean for the airlines? The news will certainly count towards a significant financial loss. Earlier this week, we reported that the coronavirus outbreak is expected to cost the aviation industry around $5bn. The Lufthansa Group is yet to publicly share figures on the impact of the coronavirus however it’s likely the airline has been hit hard like many others.
Lufthansa’s route map offers 19 destinations in China. This includes flights to the epicenter of the disease – the city of Wuhan. Conversely, SWISS and Austrian Airlines operate from just two airports in mainland China: Beijing Capital International Airport and Shanghai Pudong International Airport. Undoubtedly, their financial impact will be slightly lower than Lufthansa’s.
That said, any financial loss is not a good sign.
Rebook your flight or cancel
As a gesture of goodwill in these uncertain times, the Lufthansa Group is offering passengers the option to rebook their pre-booked trips to mainland China. Alternatively, passengers can cancel their flights and get a full refund from their airline. Offering both of these options is, of course, the sensible thing to do despite the hit to profits.
Post-coronavirus aviation could experience a slow return to China as confidence is rebuilt. This is likely to further hit airlines even if a restriction on flights is lifted. That said, China is still a popular destination for business and leisure. It undoubtedly will recover its popularity once the immediate threat of coronavirus has passed.
Were you affected by Lufthansa’s mainland China flight restrictions? Let us know in the comments.