As the United States continues to vaccinate its population against COVID-19, German flag carrier Lufthansa is cautiously planning to reinstate its entire US network. As things stand at the moment, Lufthansa is eyeing a mid-July return for its big Atlantic fleet. However, it’s also waiting on Washington to signal that it will allow European citizens quarantine free entry into the United States.
Recently the European Union lifted its ban on Americans being able to enter Europe. Now, anyone from the United States who has been vaccinated or can prove a negative COVID-19 test is eligible to enter.
Europe’s move is yet to be reciprocated by the US, which banned European Union citizens from entering the States last March. The hope now is that as more Americans get vaccinated and travel freely to Europe, President Biden will lift the travel ban imposed by former President Donald Trump.
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Over a million doses a day
While Europe may be open to American tourists, infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci urges caution, saying that 75% to 80% of the population needed to be vaccinated for the country to return to normal. The United States is currently delivering more than a million first and second doses per day. At this pace, it is estimated that it will take at least another five months before 75% of the population is fully vaccinated.
While speaking at the 2021 virtual Paris Air Forum on Monday, Lufthansa Group chief executive Carsten Spohr said they heard mixed messages coming out of Washington. Spohr said that American’s were now free to visit Germany but that they faced a challenge trying to understand what the voices in the United States were saying about opening up to Europeans.
Lufthansa can always change its schedule
Aviation enthusiast website FlightGlobal quotes the Lufhasa boss as having made the following remarks during the virtual forum:
“Amid some positive indications in that regard, Lufthansa has now decided to basically put the big Atlantic fleet to a certain degree on for the second half of July, covering every destination in the US.
“Is that right, or is it wrong? We’ll see. If it turns out we were wrong; we’ll take the aircraft out before they operate again.”
Before the COVID-19 pandemic devasted the aviation industry, Lufthansa flew from Germany to 20 destinations in the United States. With summer here, the number has crept up gradually to 15 destinations, albeit at a reduced number of frequencies.
The flights that were first to return or never, in fact, went away during the pandemic were ones to large urban population areas like New York, Chicago, Washington, and Los Angeles. Earlier this month, the airline reintroduced flights to the following three airports from Germany:
- Orlando International Airport (MCO)
- Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)
- Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW)
Of the destinations likely to return in July, we can see that Lufthansa flights from Germany to the USA are yet to return to the following airports:
- Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT)
- Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS)
- San Diego International Airport (SAN)
- Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)
Regarding the overall situation with scheduling at Lufthansa, Spohr said it was all done at short notice due to the pandemic.
“We used to do two schedules a year as an industry, we have moved to four schedules some time ago, we are now basically into weekly scheduling, even on the long-range side.”
Airlines on both sides of the Atlantic have been pressing their governments to lift travel bans and quarantine restrictions, so with that in mind, I don’t believe it will be long before America allows vaccinated European tourists to return.
When do you think that the USA will allow Europeans back in? Please tell us your thoughts on the matter in the comments.