VIENNA — Austrian Airlines will temporarily suspend flight operations as of March 19, 2020. All scheduled flights after this date will be grounded until March 28, 2020.
The airline says these measures come as a result of restrictions imposed by many countries in response to the massive spread of the coronavirus.
The last flight will land in Vienna from Chicago at 8:20 a.m. on March 19, 2020. Until then, the company says flight operations will be reduced in a controlled and structured manner in order to bring all passengers and crews home if possible.
Passengers who have booked a flight with Austrian Airlines during the nine-day suspension of service will be rebooked on other airlines if possible.
In addition, Lufthansa Group airlines will further reduce their short- and long-haul schedule. The cancellations, which will be published as early today, March 17, will lead to a sharp decline in long-haul service especially 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 further reduced. Starting today, roughly 20% of the originally planned seating capacity will still be offered. Originally, some 11,700 weekly short-haul flights were planned for summer 2020 with Lufthansa Group airlines.
The 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 guests on short notice to fly cruise passengers and holidaymakers back home. Wide-body aircraft namely, the Boeing 747 & 777 and Airbus A350 are being used to offer as much capacity as possible on these return flights. Since 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.
“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,” says Carsten Spohr, Chairman of the Executive Board of Deutsche Lufthansa AG.
Lufthansa says it 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.