Lufthansa schedules start to rebound in June amid hopeful signs in Europe

May 15, 2020

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This summer could see the aviation industry inching back to recovery, at based on news coming out of Europe during the past week.

Lufthansa said on Thursday that it would begin flying a much larger chunk of its regular schedule in June.

Combined with the other Lufthansa Group partners (Swiss, Eurowings, Brussels and Austrian), the network will run more than 1,800 round-trip flights each week by the end of next month.

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“With the June flight schedule, we are making an important contribution to the revitalization of the aviation infrastructure,” Lufthansa Group board member Harry Hohmeister said in a statement. “People want to and can travel again, whether on holiday or for business reasons. That’s why we will continue to expand our offer step by step in the coming months and connect Europe with each other and Europe with the world.”

While the news out of Lufthansa is generally optimistic, the future is a little less clear for some of the group’s other airlines. Austrian is “considering” resuming service in June, but has not made firm plans yet. Brussels Airlines will come back with a reduced network beginning June 15.

Related: Cheaper transatlantic flights? British Airways and American Airlines to give up some London slots.

For Lufthansa and the other carriers in the group, the focus for now seems to be on returning to leisure destinations. Experts have predicted for months that tourist demand would start to recover before corporate travel, and the German carrier’s planned expansion seems to reflect that.

The airlines will restore or increase service to cities in the U.S. like New York and Chicago, as well as flights to Johannesburg and Tel Aviv among other destinations. Passengers will still be required to wear face coverings while onboard.

While Lufthansa slowly rebounds, there have been other hopeful signs in Europe — even as a overall outlook remains challenging.

Read more: Air travel travel won’t return to pre-coronvirus levels until 2023, airline group predicts.

For example, International Airlines Group (IAG) — the parent company of British Airways, Aer Lingus and Iberia — said that it expects its airlines to take a “meaningful return to service” as early as July. CEO Willie Walsh said the group expects to be operating about 45% of its previous schedule by the third quarter. While that’s still a dramatic drop, it’s at least a sign of potential recovery after weeks of near-zero demand and resulting schedule cuts.

Even low-cost airlines like Ryanair, which have long been staples for intra-European travel, are hinting at some meaningful service resumptions after months of struggles. The Irish carrier, which had halted all flying, now anticipates restarting 40% of its regular schedule in July.

But dark clouds remain on the horizon in the form of potential travel restrictions or new quarantine requirements, which could hamper the modest restart schedules now being planned by carriers like Lufthansa, British Airways and others.

For now, the moves are a sign of recovery, but also a suggestion of how slow and difficult the return to a new normal might turn out to be.

Featured photo by DANIEL ROLAND/AFP via Getty Images.

More: Flying after coronavirus: Health screenings in airports and emptier planes

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