Lufthansa will reimburse the government “as soon as possible” | News | DW


Germany’s national carrier Lufthansa has said it wants to reimburse the government “as quickly as possible” after announcing a record loss of 6.7 billion euros ($ 8 billion) in the year 2020 hit by COVID-19.

Airline CEO Harry Hohmeister told newspapers at German media group Funke on Tuesday that Lufthansa preferred to fund themselves again in the capital market.

Of the 9 billion euros made available in the form of bridging loans by the state, Lufthansa has so far used around 2.3 billion euros of the total and has already repaid 1 billion euros. The German government also acquired 20% of Lufthansa’s shares for a reduced price of around 300 million euros as part of the deal.

Hohmeister, however, did not give a deadline for repayment of the remaining state aid.

“When and how we can fend for ourselves completely on our own again also depends on how the pandemic evolves, and therefore on demand,” he said.

Significant increase in reservation figures

Last summer the German government had to save the group from insolvency.

“The federal government’s stabilization plan has ensured our solvency and gives us a solid outlook for the future,” Hohmeister said, adding that the group was becoming more stable.

Lufthansa – one of Europe’s largest airlines – has seen a boom in bookings in recent weeks as people start looking to organize travel with the pandemic over.

“The number of bookings has been rising steadily for the past eight weeks, with a significant upward jump last week. These are the strongest seven days since April 2020,” Hohmeister said. “For flights in July and August, the demand is 10 to 11 times higher than four weeks ago.”

On some roads, demand is even higher than before the coronavirus pandemic, according to Hohmeister.

During the coronavirus pandemic, Lufthansa had grounded hundreds of planes. Lufthansa therefore plans to reactivate 30 to 50 additional planes in the coming weeks and “quickly offer enough seats”.

The airline could also fly “with a jumbo on a high demand route with 370 passengers instead of a short-haul plane with 180 guests,” Hohmeister said.

Calls for international standards

Hohmeister also urged politicians to launch the COVID-19 digital vaccination passport by the end of June.

“Otherwise, the summer travel season will be very inconvenient for customers,” he said.

European Union countries and the European Parliament recently on a Europe-wide certificate for those who could either prove vaccination against COVID-19 or demonstrate that they had recovered from it.

Lufthansa wants a minimum price for its flights

Hohmeister also said the airline was open to a recent proposal from Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, the SPD’s candidate for chancellor in the September elections, to establish minimum prices for flights.

“If minimum prices mean airlines have to cover their costs and aren’t allowed to charge fancy prices lower than applicable taxes and fees, then that’s legitimate,” Hohmeister said.

In mid-May, Scholz told broadcaster ProSieben that Germany should take action against cheap flights by setting a minimum price.

mvb / msh (dpa, AFP)

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