Sunday, 8 March 2020

Lufthansa Group among a number of airlines cancelling all flights to Israel due to new entry regulations

All flights to Tel Aviv and Eilat will be cancelled as of next Sunday for the next three weeks
Lufthansa cancels over 7,100 European flights in March 
The extended refusal of entry of the Israeli authorities, introduced from 6 March to among others also for travellers from Germany, Switzerland and Austria, will lead to a considerable drop in demand for flights to Israel. As a result, Lufthansa, SWISS and Austrian Airlines will cancel all their flights to Tel Aviv and Eilat as of Sunday 8 March 2020 for the remaining winter timetable period until 28 March. The Lufthansa Group sees itself forced to make this cancellation for economic and operational reasons, as many passengers are no longer entitled to enter the country.

All airlines mentioned above usually offer a total of ten daily flights to Tel Aviv, in addition, Lufthansa has one scheduled weekly service to Eilat.

The Lufthansa Group is not alone in cancelling or planning to axe flights to Israel due to the new regulations introduced, which are said to be the strictest in the world. Israel has already imposed the same restrictions to flights from Italy, China and Singapore. The IAG's Spanish airline, Iberia, usually operates seven flights a week to Israel has confirmed it will axe flights to Tel Aviv until at least the end of the March - “Due to Israeli Interior Ministry directives banning citizens from a number of countries, including Spain, we are forced to temporarily suspend flights to Tel Aviv,” the carrier said in a statement. Alitalia has stopped all flights between 11th and 29th March. Low-cost airline Wizz is currently reducing flights to Tel Aviv because of a lack of demand, whilst British Airways is understood to be currently reviewing its Israeli schedule as the ban on non-residents entering the country is expected to be expanded to the UK early next week. 

The heavy restrictions will have a massive negative impact on the nations tourist industry, which is already facing difficulty. Local analysts indicate that a raft of bankruptcies in the incoming tourist industry is to be expected before the end of April. Many commentators have also indicated that the introduction of travel restrictions has more political reasoning that public safety.

Lufthansa: 7,100 European flights cancelled in March

Due to the exceptional circumstances caused by the spread of the coronavirus and the decline in demand, the Lufthansa Group has also decided by reducing capacity by up to 25 per cent. The route cancellations and frequency adjustments correspond to a calculated capacity of 150 aircraft, of which 125 are short- and medium-haul and are 25 long haul. The Lufthansa Group fleet currently comprises around 770 aircraft, including some 180 long-haul aircraft.

Starting today, 5 March, the route cancellations and frequency adjustments will be implemented successively and the passengers affected will be informed about the changes and rebooking options. Until the end of March, Lufthansa is cancelling a total of about 7,100 flights (including 3,750 flights from Frankfurt to 75 airports, and 3,350 flights from Munich to 65 airports).

The focus is on domestic flights from the Frankfurt hub to Berlin, Munich and Hamburg as well as from Munich to Berlin, Hamburg, Düsseldorf, Cologne, Bremen and Hanover. These are high-frequency connections, some of which are operated up to every half hour by Lufthansa. This means that numerous rebooking options are available. 

A second focus of the route cancellations and frequency adjustments is Italy. This includes the destinations Milan, Venice, Rome, Turin, Verona, Bologna, Ancona and Pisa. 

Lufthansa passengers are advised to inform themselves about the current situation of the respective flight via before departure. Guests who have submitted their contact details to Lufthansa will be proactively informed of the cancellations. This is because in addition to domestic German and Italian connections, other flights to Scandinavia, Great Britain, the Baltic States, Poland, Russia, France, Spain, Portugal, etc. are affected. 

When cancelling routes, Lufthansa has taken into account the fact that all European destinations will continue to be serviced, so that in most cases customers can be offered a suitable alternative.

In addition, the airline had already decided last week to suspend flights from Germany to mainland China until 24 April inclusive. The connection to Tehran will remain cancelled until 30 April. 

Lufthansa is also reducing frequencies in its route network to and from Hong Kong and Seoul (Korea), among others. Flights between Munich and Hong Kong will be suspended between March 6 and April 24. Passengers will be rebooked via Frankfurt and Zurich if possible during this period. Between 5 March and 24 April, some frequencies will also be cancelled on routes from Frankfurt and Munich to Seoul.

In addition, the Lufthansa Group has announced further cost-cutting measures in the areas of personnel, materials and project budgets. 

It is not yet possible to estimate the impact on earnings expected from current developments. The Group will publish key financial figures at its annual financial results press conference on 19 March 2020.

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