Lufthansa tentatively plans to reinstate its full US network from the second half of July, using its “big Atlantic fleet”, amid uncertainty over when Washington will relax its travel restrictions.
Speaking during a Paris Air Forum event on 21 June, Lufthansa Group chief executive Carsten Spohr said the operator faced a challenge trying “to understand what the voices are from the US about opening up”.
Germany has relaxed its quarantine requirements for travellers from the USA, but that has yet to be reciprocated.
Amid some positive indications in that regard, Lufthansa has “now decided to basically put the big Atlantic fleet to a certain degree on for the second half of July, covering every destination in the US”, Spohr says.
“Is that right or is it wrong? We’ll see. If it turns out we were wrong, we’ll take the aircraft out before they operate again.”
Cirium schedules data shows that Lufthansa’s mainline operation served 19 US destinations in early 2020, before the pandemic devastated global airline connectivity. It is operating to 15 of those destinations in June 2021, data suggests, but at much-reduced frequencies, with seats on US services down 65% on the same month in 2019.
Austin, Charlotte, Philadelphia and San Diego are the four destinations that would return in July under current scheduling assumptions.
Of the aircraft types that Lufthansa mainline operated on its pre-crisis transatlantic routes, Airbus A340-600s, A380s and Boeing 747-400s are unlikely to return to service, the carrier has previously indicated.
But most of its A330s, A340-300s, A350-900s and 747-8Is have been brought back into service, Cirium fleets data suggests.
Regarding Luftahnsa’s entire network, Spohr notes that scheduling has become increasingly short-term during the pandemic.
“We used to do two schedules a year as an industry, we have moved to four schedules some time ago, we are now basically into weekly scheduling, even on the long-range side,” he says.