Lufthansa Adds Flights as Confined Germans Plot Festive Breaks
(Bloomberg) -- Deutsche Lufthansa AG will expand its Christmas flight schedule after a surge in bookings from German tourists, a rare piece of good news for the carrier as it battles to recover from the coronavirus crisis.
Lufthansa will add flights to southern European destinations including in Greece, Italy and Spain to meet the rising demand, the company said in a statement on Thursday. The airline will also reactivate routes to major cities to carry expatriates back to their homelands over the festive period.
A surge in bookings marks a glimmer of light at the end of a gloomy year for Lufthansa, which took a 9 billion euro ($10.9 billion) government bailout in June. The carrier said a month ago it needs to double operations from current levels if it’s to stem losses, having reduced capacity to 25% of year-ago traffic.
The extra demand for European travel comes after countries including the U.K. and Italy said they’d temporarily loosen lockdown rules to allow families to gather during the holiday season. British low-cost carrier EasyJet Plc last month said it’s seeing a surge in late December bookings as restrictions ease.
Still, Lufthansa faces an arduous winter as Europe fights a resurgence of coronavirus infections about a year after the pandemic originated in China. While Covid-19 vaccines are close to being rolled out, European airlines are not expecting a sustained improvement in demand until well into next year.
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While Germany has some lockdown curbs in place, its citizens are free to fly, although those returning from designated risk zones have to quarantine for up to ten days. In some states, that period may end early if a test carried out on or after the fifth day of entry is negative.
Lufthansa shares traded 0.9% higher in the wake of the announcement. The stock has lost 38% of its value this year, dropping out of Germany’s bluechip DAX index.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has asked people to forgo skiing holidays after a cluster of outbreaks in mountain resorts in the early stage of the pandemic, but Lufthansa said it’s seeing heavy demand for travel to northern Finland, a country that hasn’t introduced a lockdown and is home to several winter-sports resorts.
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