Austrian Airlines to temporarily suspend flight operations

(Photo: Austrian Airlines)

 

  • Last flight to land 19 March in Vienna; future flights temporarily suspended until 28 March
  • Lufthansa Group: entire short and long-haul schedule significantly reduced further
  • As of 17 March, 10 per cent of existing planned capacity will still be available on long-haul routes and 20 per cent on short-haul routes
  • Lufthansa Group airlines fly thousands of cruise passengers and holidaymakers home
  • Preparations for further evacuation flights underway
  • Lufthansa Cargo flight operations carries out all planned flights despite corona crisis

The Lufthansa Group carrier, Austrian Airlines, will temporarily suspend scheduled flight operations as of Thursday, March 19, 2020. Austrian Airlines is thus reacting to the entry restrictions imposed by many countries in response to the increased spread of the coronavirus.

As a result, the last flight (OS 066) will land in Vienna from Chicago at 8:20am on March 19. Until then, the airline said its flight operations will be reduced in a controlled and structured manner in order to bring all passengers and crews home where possible. Initially, Austrian Airlines will cancel all flights until March 28 and passengers who have booked a flight during this period will be rebooked on other airlines where possible.

In addition, Lufthansa Group airlines will further reduce their short- and long-haul schedule. The cancellations, which will be published tomorrow (March 17) will lead to a sharp decline in long-haul service particularly in the Middle East, Africa and Central and South America. Overall, the Lufthansa Group’s seating capacity on long-haul routes will be reduced by up to 90%. A total of 1,300 weekly connections were originally planned for summer 2020.

Within Europe the flight schedule will also be reduced further. Starting tomorrow, Tuesday March 17, the group predicts that 20% of the originally planned seating capacity will still be offered. Typically, 11,700 weekly short-haul flights were planned for summer 2020 across the Lufthansa Group airlines. It said additional cancellations will be published over the next few days and passengers will be informed accordingly.

Despite the large-scale cancellations, Lufthansa, Eurowings and Austrian Airlines have scheduled more than 20 special flights with over 6,000 passengers at short notice to fly cruise and holidaymakers back home. Widebody aircraft, namely the Boeing 747, B777 and Airbus A350 are being used to provide as much capacity as possible on these return flights. As thousands of German, Austrian, Swiss and Belgian citizens are still waiting to return to their home countries, Lufthansa Group airlines have made arrangements for further evacuation flights and are in close contact with the governments of their home countries concerning this.

Carsten Spohr, chairman of the Executive Board of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, said: “Now it is no longer about economic issues, but about the responsibility that airlines bear as part of the critical infrastructure in their home countries.” Lufthansa will work with airports and air traffic controllers to develop a coordinated concept for maintaining the critical infrastructure.

The new timetable for all Lufthansa Group airlines will initially be valid until April 12, 2020. Lufthansa Group passengers planning a trip in the coming weeks are advised to check the current status of the respective flight on their airline’s website before departure. If rebooking possibilities exist, the passengers concerned will be proactively informed about alternatives, as long as they have provided their contact details online. In addition, currently changed rebooking conditions apply on a goodwill basis. Customers can find more information about this at lufthansa.com.

A Group statement underlined that that it is currently receiving an exceptionally high number of customer calls at its Service Centres and stations. “We are continuously working on increasing capacity to meet this demand. Nevertheless, there are currently long waiting times. Passengers can use the extensive rebooking and self-service options on the airlines’ websites as an alternative.”

Unlike the passenger airlines, Lufthansa Cargo has so far been able to operate all its planned flights, except for cancellations to mainland China. The Lufthansa Group subsidiary said it will continue to do everything in its power to maintain the flight operations of its own cargo fleet and thus support the global supply chains. “Especially during the current crisis, logistics and thus also airfreight are of paramount importance.”