Lufthansa has announced plans to reopen 70% of its long-haul network in the next three months. The announcement means the airline is looking at a resurgence in demand in the coming months, as restrictions ease around the world. Let’s find out more.
It should be noted that Lufthansa is planning to operate 70% of its long-haul network, not 70% of all long-haul flights. The difference means that cities might see reduced daily or weekly frequencies as compared to before the pandemic.
Steady capacity rise
As the world emerges from a series of strict lockdowns, airlines are looking to increase their capacity once again. Lufthansa has been hit particularly hard by travel restrictions, with the airline parking 90% of its fleet at the peak of the crisis and scaling down to a small number of destinations. With borders now slowly reopening, Lufthansa is planning for the coming year.
The airline recently announced plans to operate flights to 20 additional cities in June and double its fleet in operation. It will continue ramping up operations through September, resuming 90% of short and medium-haul routes and 70% of long-haul ones.
This capacity increase coincides with the opening of borders between EU states and an overall rise in intra-Europe travel. While the recent focus has been on European expansion, Lufthansa has also resumed long-haul flights to select destinations. These destinations include Los Angeles, Tel Aviv, Chicago, and Toronto.
International travel to pick up
Lufthansa’s announcement that it will fly 70% of its long-haul network point to a belief that demand is on the rise once again. The airline will focus on high-demand and profitable routes in the coming months.
The airline will fly a 100 weekly flights to North American destinations, 90 to Asia, 25 to Africa, and 20 to the Middle East. Within these regions, Lufthansa plans to fly select routes, such as Hong Kong, Singapore, and Mumbai in Asia and Nairobi and Windhoek in Africa. These routes will likely feature the most demand and revenue, which will be important as Lufthansa tries to stabilize its financial situation.
While the expansion plans are impressive, 135 weekly long-haul flights only represent a fraction of Lufthansa’s prior capacity. While the airline might be serving many more destinations in the coming months, passengers can expect fewer weekly services and less connecting options to popular destinations.
Recovery to remain slow
Lufthansa’s path to recovery remains a slow one, as the airline reels from the impact of the coronavirus. The airline has made cuts to its fleet size, retired nearly half of its A380s, and grounded hundreds of planes. According to Reuters, the airline could see some of its planes grounded until 2023, a staggeringly long time.
The airline’s decision to add more capacity is a positive sign for the industry and passengers alike. However, with hundreds of parked aircraft and sluggish demand, the road to recovery for Lufthansa will be a long one.
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