The Lufthansa Group has outlined its operational plans for June. The German airline group intends to begin slowly reactivating its network following over a month of limited flight operations.
Since early 2020 the Lufthansa Group has been feeling the effect of the global pandemic. Initially, the airline was forced to cancel several services to China, which was, at the time, the epicenter of the outbreak. However, since then, the situation has rapidly evolved, with the group grounding the majority of its aircraft at airports across Europe. It has even sent several aircraft off to early retirement.
What not to do
While flights were suspended in reasonably quick succession, undoing the grounding won’t be as simple. Indeed, the Lufthansa Group believes that demand that disappeared in the space of two months could take up to three years to recover. This means that the airline will need to take a phased approach to recovery.
There is no point in just resuming the network. It’s not a case of ‘if you build it, they will come.’ If the group were just to relaunch its full schedule tomorrow, most flights would still be empty. Indeed, Ryanair is currently just operating a skeleton schedule and says that even these few flights have a low load factor.
So, what’s the plan?
The Lufthansa Group has announced that it will end its schedule of repatriation flights from the 31st of May onwards. However, in place of this, the group will begin to run its new ‘June timetable.’ This will see group airlines doubling the total number of operational aircraft from 80 to 160.
Lufthansa says that these aircraft will fly to 106 destinations. One would imagine that a large portion would be intra-Europe flights. The airline justified the increase in flights by stating that interest in air travel is increasing as Germany’s lockdown begins to be eased.
Harry Hohmeister, a Member of the Executive Board of German Lufthansa AG, commented:
“We sense a great desire and longing among people to travel again. Hotels and restaurants are slowly opening, and visits to friends and family are in some cases being allowed again. With all due caution, we are now making it possible for people to catch up and experience what they had to do without for a long time.”
Of course, it will still likely take a while before we see Lufthansa return to its pre-crisis size. Additionally, the airline has said that several aircraft, such as six Airbus A380s, won’t fly again. Meanwhile, the airline’s entire fleet of Airbus A340-600s won’t fly for at least a year, if at all. It’s unclear at this stage what effect, if any, the crisis will have on the delivery of Lufthansa’s new Boeing 777X aircraft.
What do you make of the Lufthansa Group’s gradual return to the skies? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!