Lufthansa cancels 33,000 flights due to weak demand | News | DW

German air carrier Lufthansa plans to cut 33,000 flights from its winter schedule, or around 10% of its total flight plan.

CEO Carsten Spohr told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung newspaper that there had been a sharp drop in bookings, particularly from mid-January to the period of February.

“Above all, we are short of passengers in our domestic markets which are Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Belgium, because these countries have been the hardest hit by the pandemic wave”, he said. declared.

Spohr said the airline was only making 60 percent of flights compared to the pre-pandemic year 2019, with “about half” of the passengers.

Spohr also complained that Lufthansa was planning to operate its currently scheduled services not because there was a demand for them, but because it was the minimum number required for the airline to maintain its slots. take off and landing at major airports.

“Due to the reduced demand in January, we would have even canceled many more flights. But in the winter we will have to make an additional 18,000 unnecessary flights, just to secure our take-off and landing rights,” Spohr said.

Lufthansa is the largest airline group in Europe and includes Eurowings, Austrian, Swiss and Brussels Airlines. It posted a profit in the third quarter of this year for the first time, after a difficult pandemic period.

Lufthansa blocks flights because many pilots are sick

But Lufthansa’s shorter-term operations during the holiday season were also affected. An illness crisis and concerns about the omicron variant among its pilots also caused Lufthansa to bring a dozen flights to a standstill over the next two weeks.

Flights to Boston, Houston and Washington had been particularly affected, with some flights to Japan also having been canceled. A company representative told German news agency dpa that they had planned “a very large buffer. But that is not enough given the extremely high disease rate.”

The company official did not want to speculate that the absences were due to COVID or the omicron variant. The company said crew planners also found it difficult as many staff had to self-quarantine.

U.S. carriers also cancel flights with sick crew

U.S. carriers United Airlines and Delta Airlines have also grounded 120 and 90 flights each for Christmas Eve as their crew were affected by the variant.

“The national peak of Omicron cases this week has had a direct impact on our flight crews and the people who run our operations. As a result, we have unfortunately had to cancel some flights and are informing affected customers in advance that they are coming to airport, ”United said.

Other airlines are reducing their offers

Swedish airline SAS said it had also had to cancel some flights due to the virus. Ryanair also cut its January schedule by 33%. Restrictions on international travel have had a moderating effect on travel during the holiday season.

However, a few airlines operating in Europe are seeing strong sales during the Christmas period this year. Easyjet, Ryanair, SAS and Wizz Air offer more connections during the holidays.

tg / msh (dpa, AFP, Reuters)

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