Some European Airline Routes To Resume; Austrian Delays Restart

Credit: Rob Finlayson

SALZBURG—While several carriers are announcing resumption of some services over their networks, Austrian Airlines has postponed its restart again.

Kazakhstan national carrier Air Astana is resuming some domestic services and expects to be operating approximately 30% of its pre-crisis network by the end of May. “The present challenge is immense, and we don’t expect some of our markets to improve for many years,” Air Astana group president and CEO Peter Foster said.

Foster told Aviation Daily recently that the carrier was fortunate to enter the pandemic crisis after ten of the best trading months the airline ever experienced, so its cash and liquidity position is relatively healthy. Overhead as a percentage of cost is also relatively low so Air Astana has thus far protected its cash position effectively. 

“That said, this cannot go on forever. Lessors and banks have for the most part generally been helpful in allowing some payment deferrals, however the bills will come due eventually,” Foster told Aviation Daily. “If we can get 50% of the airline up and running by late summer, we should be fine.”

Latvia´s airBaltic plans to resume direct flights from Tallinn, Estonia to Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and Oslo starting May 18, and will resume flights to Vilnius, Lithuania as of May 25.

“Until the crisis began, we were the strongest carrier in Tallinn ... now we return with a clear target to maintain our position in Estonia and the Baltics. By focusing on an all-Airbus A220-300 fleet, we are well positioned for the restart in Tallinn,” airBaltic CEO Martin Gauss said.

AirBaltic said it is ready to resume operations from its home-base Riga International Airport once permissions form authorities are granted.

By the end of June, the Lufthansa Group airlines plan to offer around 1,800 weekly roundtrips to more than 130 destinations worldwide.

“With the June flight schedule, we are making an important contribution to the revitalization of the aviation infrastructure,” German Lufthansa AG executive board member Harry Hohmeister said.

Lufthansa mainline additional flights from Frankfurt resuming in the first half of June are: Billund, Denmark; Bucharest, Romania; Budapest, Hungary; Dublin; Hanover, Germany; Kiev, Ukraine; Krakow, Poland; Majorca, Spain; Manchester, UK; Nice, France; Prague; Riga, Latvia; and Sofia, Bulgaria.  

From Munich, its resuming flights are:  Brussels; Majorca; Munster/Osnabruck, Rostock and Sylt (all Germany); Vienna; and Zurich.

Lufthansa’s first half of June schedules also includes 19 long-haul destinations, fourteen more than in May. Resumption of additional Lufthansa long-haul flights is planned for the second half of June.

From Frankfurt, Lufthansa’s long-haul resumption of flights (subject to possible travel restrictions) will be to: Abuja and Port Harcourt (both Nigeria); Bahrain; Dubai; Johannesburg; Mexico City; Mumbai; Riyadh; Tel Aviv; and Toronto. Frankfurt flights to Bangkok, Chicago, Newark/New York, Sao Paulo and Tokyo and will continue to be offered.

Lufthansa’s long-haul return flights from Munich (subject to possible travel restrictions) are Chicago, Los Angeles and Tel Aviv.

Lufthansa subsidiary Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) will partially restart its flight operations in June and plans to operate up to 190 flights from Zurich and Geneva to 41 European destinations. The ramp-up will follow in stages, and the range of flights available will gradually be increased over the weeks ahead.

SWISS will resume services to Barcelona; Brindisi, Florence, Naples and Rome (all Italy); Brussels; Copenhagen; Gothenburg, Sweden; Madrid, Malaga and Valencia (Spain); Moscow and Paris. The carrier’s existing services to Amsterdam, Athens, Berlin, Lisbon, London, Porto and Stockholm will be expanded. 

SWISS will establish new intercontinental routes from Zurich to Bangkok (weekly); Chicago O´Hare (2X-weekly); Hong Kong (2X-weekly); Johannesburg (weekly); Mumbai (3X-weekly); New York JFK (4X-weekly); Singapore (weekly); and Tokyo Narita (2X-weekly). Its 3X-weekly service to Newark will remain.

SWISS plans to further expand its services over the summer months and will continue to monitor closely the development of travel restrictions worldwide.

Brussels Airlines is planning to resume its operations from June 15 with reduced flight offerings that will be built up in a phased approach according to market demand and travel restrictions. The airline’s network for its first weeks will be communicated in coming days. Destinations will include Germany, Greece, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland.

Lufthansa subsidiary Austrian Airlines said May 14 it is postponing its restart again by one week until June 7 as a result of travel restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Austrian federal government announced May 13 that the country’s borders with Germany and possibly other neighbors would be reopened on June 15. For this reason, the Star Alliance member has decided to extend the suspension of regular operations. A June restart is under review.

Air Serbia will postpone the start of scheduled flights from the planned June 1 to June 15, in view of the European Commission’s recommendation regarding the extension of temporary restrictions. Nevertheless, Air Serbia’s planned May 18 relaunching of flights with reduced frequencies to Frankfurt, London Heathrow, Vienna and Zurich will go forward as planned.

Kurt Hofmann

Kurt Hofmann has been writing on the airline industry for 25 years. He appears frequently on Austrian, Swiss and German television and broadcasting…