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A Lufthansa A380 parked after diverting to Austin. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Mateen Kontoravdis)

Lufthansa Grounds Airbus A380 Fleet

German flag carrier Lufthansa has announced that it will ground its entire Airbus A380 fleet in response to dwindling demand caused by coronavirus fears. The grounding game soon after Lufthansa Group announced that it is reducing capacity by up to 50 percent in the coming weeks due to the effect coronavirus has had on bookings.

Both of these efforts intend to reduce the financial consequences of this dwindling demand. The A380 in particular is especially expensive to operate considering its relatively high fuel and maintenance costs. The Superjumbo jet has a lower per-seat fuel economy than many other planes in Lufthansa’s fleet, so operating the jet at substantially less than capacity would have a particularly negative effect on Lufthansa’s earnings.

Per an internal memo, the airline is seeing a load factor of about 35 percent on its A380s, which have over 500 seats across four classes. Lufthansa says that the aircraft will be grounded through at least the end of May. 

Lufthansa will park its A380s in Frankfurt and Munich, both of which are bases for the aircraft. The airline will make arrangements with employees to respond to the grounding. While it may be easy for cabin crew to switch to other aircraft, pilots rated solely on the A380 may be facing substantial time off until the aircraft is flying again. 

The airline has already offered employees the use of voluntary individual personal measures in recent weeks, including granting employees unpaid leave and allowing them to shift their annual leave forward. It is in talks with trade unions and operating partners to avoid dismissals by taking advantage of part-time leave models.

Airlines around the world are taking increasingly drastic action in response to dwindling travel surrounding the Coronavirus outbreak. Asian airlines have taken the most serious action, but carriers around the world have suspended services to the most severely-hit countries or waived change fees for passengers who wish to alter travel plans. With no end in sight for the Coronavirus outbreak, it’s tough to say when carriers will resume regular operations and passengers will begin to travel normally again.

The novel COVID-19 virus was first identified in China in late 2019. Since then, it has spread to dozens of countries around the world, causing nerves around the world. People have cut down on travel and changed lifestyle habits to avoid infection causing a worldwide travel slowdown.

John McDermott
John McDermott
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