Lufthansa, Austrian and Qatar announce more flights

Jul 1, 2020

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Although COVID-19 is keeping demand for travel generally suppressed these days, airlines around the world are seeing a slight uptick as summer kicks into whatever counts as “full swing” in 2020. They’re responding by offering more flights.

German carrier Lufthansa, its sister Austrian Airlines and Doha-based Qatar Airways all announced service increases for July.

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For Lufthansa, that means thrice-weekly service between Frankfurt and both Boston and Los Angeles beginning Thursday. Frequencies on those routes will increase to five times weekly in August and to daily flights in September.

Review: Lufthansa’s Premium Economy on the A330.

“The Lufthansa Group is committed to connecting passengers and serving as a bridge between the continents,” Larry Ryan, senior director of sales, USA for the Lufthansa Group said in a statement. “As the world gradually begins to open up, the desire to travel has increased and there is an ever-growing necessity to see family and friends, as well as conduct important business trips. Lufthansa is continually evaluating additional connections globally.”

Austrian, for its part, resumed three-times weekly service from Vienna to Washington, Chicago and Newark on July 1 according to Tal Muscal, a Lufthansa Group spokesman.

Related: Lufthansa Group rolls out ‘return flight guarantee’ in Europe.

Meanwhile in the Middle East, Qatar announced a resumption of service to 11 destinations beginning Wednesday, including Boston, Los Angeles and Washington. On July 4, the airline will also begin flying to Toronto for the first time with thrice-weekly service. Amid the coronavirus travel slump, it’s always especially noteworthy whenever an airline announces a new route. Qatar’s press release about the services gave some data that points to how demand is recovering.

Related: Alaska Airlines adds new California route even as it warns of flying, staff cuts.

“The airline is hopeful further commercial flight restrictions will be eased throughout July, with the carrier planning to resume almost two thirds of its pre-COVID-19 network by the end of the month,” the statement said. “The airline expects its number of flights to almost double in July with close to 3,500 flights scheduled, compared to just under 2,100 in June.

Read more: Airline complaints soared 1,500% in April as flyers vented about refunds.

In their announcements, Lufthansa and Qatar emphasized measures they’re taking to keep passengers safe and other procedures and policies that are in place that reflect how quickly travel has changed this year.

Guide: Airlines’ social distancing and public health policies. 

Both carriers underscored their cabin cleaning procedures and onboard air filtration systems.

For its part, Qatar is decking out its cabin crews in full-body PPE and modifying its inflight service procedures. The airline also has an extremely flexible rebooking policy, allowing passengers to change their existing itineraries without any penalty or fare difference so long as their new plans happen on or before Dec. 31, 2020.

Guide: Airline coronavirus cancellation policies and waivers.

Lufthansa also partnered with a biotech company to make COVID-19 tests available at its Frankfurt base. According to the airline, passengers who take the test on arrival and receive a negative result can avoid Germany’s otherwise-mandatory quarantine for foreign visitors. U.S. citizens, however, are still generally barred from entering Germany and most of the rest of the European Union. The tests only help travelers who are coming into the country for an approved reason, like an urgent medical procedure or a diplomatic assignment.

“Airlines like Lufthansa are catering towards dual citizens, diplomats, people that have the rights to enter the E.U. or are transferring to other countries,” Muscal said.

Review: Qatar Airways’ Qsuite business class on the 777-300ER, Doha to JFK.

Featured photo by Britta Pedersen/picture alliance via Getty Images.

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