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Austrian Airlines Announces Fifth Service Resumption Delay
Austrian Airlines announced on Friday that it will resume operating flights on June 7, nearly three months after grounding its fleet in mid-March delaying its resumption of service five times. The move comes in response to the Austrian government’s announcement that its borders with Germany and some Schengen area countries will reopen on June 15.
Austrian Airlines Chief Commercial Officer Andreas Otto, believes avoiding empty flights by extending service suspension is crucial.
“When the demand is right and the travel restrictions fall, we want to fly again,” Otto said.
Austrian Airlines’ service suspension began on March 18, with its last normal operating flight being a non-stop Boeing 777-200ER flight from Chicago which landed back in Vienna on March 19. Austrian’s suspension was originally supposed to last for 10 days but has since been extended additional four times, with this week’s extension being the most recent.
The last flight suspension extension was announced less than two weeks ago, near the end of April, when the Austrian Ministry of Health announced that landing bans would remain in place through May. Immediately after the suspension was announced, the airline’s chief executive said the airline had a duty to its employees and the public to stay afloat during and after a difficult time for the airline industry.
“We got into this crisis through no fault of our own. Now it is our responsibility to make Austrian Airlines fit for the future after Corona,” airline CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech said at the time.
More specifically, he said that cost-cutting would be a difficult but necessary piece of the airline’s recovery process, especially as Austrian looked to maintain one facet of the business he saw as non-negotiable.
“We want to retain our long-haul hub, even if we have no other choice for the time being but to adapt to the somewhat smaller market. Being fit for the future also means that we must be in a position to finance our aircraft, charges, wages and investments, and of course also to repay any charges and loans from Corona grounding,” von Hoensbroech said.
The European Union is currently targeting a mid-June date for reopening borders. Although the new date for Austrian’s service resumption seems definite, Austrian Airlines said that June operations are still under review. Once demand has been recovered, the airline is making preparations to relaunch operations as soon as possible.
Elsewhere in the Lufthansa Group, Swiss, Eurowings and Lufthansa are bolstering their short- and long-haul services, and Brussels Airlines is targeting June 15 to resume flights.
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