The Lufthansa Group has said that the extended refusal of entry by the Israeli authorities, which applies from March 6 to travellers from Germany, Switzerland and Austria amongst others, will lead to a considerable drop in demand for flights to Israel. As a result, Lufthansa, SWISS and Austrian Airlines will cancel all their flights to Tel Aviv and Eilat from Sunday March 8, 2020 for the remaining winter timetable period (until March 28). The Lufthansa Group said that it has been forced to make this cancellation for economic and operational reasons, as many passengers are no longer entitled to enter the country. The airline added that, for operational reasons, some flights to Tel Aviv scheduled to depart this Friday and Saturday (March 6+7) have already been cancelled as flight crews are also affected by these new restrictions. All airlines mentioned above traditionally offer a total of ten daily flights to Tel Aviv; in addition Lufthansa has one scheduled weekly service to Eilat.
Lufthansa added that, due to the exceptional circumstances caused by the spread of the coronavirus and the decline in demand, it has already cancelled 7,100 European flights through to the end of March (including 3,750 flights from Frankfurt to 75 airports, and 3,350 sectors from Munich to 65 airports). The wider Lufthansa Group has also decided to reduce capacity by up to 25%. The route cancellations and frequency adjustments correspond to a calculated capacity of 150 aircraft, of which 125 are short- and medium-haul and are 25 long-haul. The Lufthansa Group fleet currently comprises of approximately 770 airliners, including some 180 long-haul aircraft.
Starting today – March 5 – the route cancellations and frequency adjustments will be introduced successively, and the passengers affected will be notified about the changes and rebooking options. The airline said its primary focus was upon consolidating its domestic flights from the Frankfurt hub to Berlin, Munich and Hamburg as well as from Munich to Berlin, Hamburg, Düsseldorf, Cologne, Bremen and Hanover. These are high-frequency connections, some of which are operated up to every half an hour by Lufthansa, so numerous rebooking options are available.
A second emphasis is upon route cancellations and frequency adjustments for Italy, including Milan, Venice, Rome, Turin, Verona, Bologna, Ancona and Pisa.
Some services to Scandinavia, Great Britain, the Baltic States, Poland, Russia, France, Spain, Portugal, and the UK are also affected, so Lufthansa is advising its passengers to check the up-to-date situation regarding their respective flights via lufthansa.com before departure. Those who have submitted their contact details to the airline will be proactively informed of the cancellations.
Lufthansa said that when cancelling routes, it has ensured that all European destinations will continue to be served, so that in most cases customers can be offered a suitable alternative.
In addition, the airline had already decided, last week, to suspend flights from Germany to mainland China until April 24 inclusive. The connection to Tehran will remain cancelled until April 30.
Lufthansa is also reducing frequencies in its route network to and from Hong Kong and Seoul (South Korea), among others. Flights between Munich and Hong Kong will be suspended between March 6 and April 24. If possible, passengers will be rebooked via Frankfurt and Zurich during this period. Between March 5 and April 24, some frequencies will also be cancelled on routes from Frankfurt and Munich to Seoul.
The airline said that it is not yet possible to estimate the financial impact that the current situation will have upon its earnings. The Group will publish key financial figures at its annual financial results press conference on March 19, 2020.
The Lufthansa Group said it is working to introduce further cost-cutting measures in terms of personnel, materials and project budgets.