Air France, British Airways, Lufthansa Reduce Capacity and Ground Planes

By Kurt Stolz on 30 October 2020
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A Lufthansa aircraft in Philadelphia

Europe’s largest airlines including Air France, British Airways, and Lufthansa, are cutting capacity for the remainder of the year amidst as the coronavirus pandemic-induced plummet in travel worsens and governments on the Continent and abroad struggle to limit the spread of the virus.

Lufthansa Group, which owns Austrian Airlines, Lufthansa, and Swiss, said it plans to operate 25% of the number of flights it operated in the same period in 2019, while grounding an additional 125 aircraft.

Air France said Friday it would operate 35% of its 2019 fourth quarter capacity, a reduction of 15 percentage points from the 50% it had originally planned, while sister carrier KLM will operate 45% of its 2019 Q4 capacity, a reduction of ten percentage points from what had been planned.

Meanwhile, British Airways’ parent International Airlines Group, which also owns Aer Lingus, said it would reduce Q4 capacity to 30% of its 2019 Q4 flying from the previously announced 40%.

“When we have lockdown, there is a direct impact,” said IAG’s newly installed CEO, Luis Gallego, on a call with reporters Friday.  He said that a pent-up demand for travel is being undermined by what he termed “volatile” new travel restrictions and quarantine requirements. He also said he holds out hope that a safe travel corridor or air bridge would open up between London and New York with the use of Covid-19 testing.  The London-New York market is the busiest in the world based on available seat miles or capacity.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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