Perhaps five years until back to normal

Air travel is not going to return to normal any time soon, Lufthansa chief executive  said during an online discussion hosted by the London School of Economics.

Perhaps five years until back to normal
dpa

London (dpa) - Air travel is not going to return to normal any time soon, thanks to the coronavirus crisis, Lufthansa chief executive Carsten Spohr said on Monday during an online discussion hosted by the London School of Economics.

To date, he said, there has been no easing to the rules that have made air travel so hard since the pandemic erupted. Indeed, he said he has only seen additional restrictions.

That means weak passenger numbers will continue in the coming weeks. Even later this year, during the peak summer travel season, he said he expects passenger capacity to be only about 40 to 60 per cent of what was normal before the health emergency.

That means a major business challenge for his company, Spohr said.

He said getting coronavirus tests before boarding will be critical, but noted that there are no clear guidelines on how this should be done. He noted that Lufthansa has prepared itself as well as it could.

But he said, sooner or later, it will be a worldwide standard that passengers either need to be tested or vaccinated before boarding.

He says Lufthansa is using the crisis to present itself as a more sustainable company and to make sure it retains its spot among the world's top five airlines.

Lufthansa's fleet will shrink, from about 800 to 650 aeroplanes. He said passenger numbers in Europe and the US will probably take about five years to fully recover to the levels last seen in 2019.

But he noted that might have to rely on increased tourism travel, since it is unclear whether business travel will ever bounce back to what it was before the crisis. That could mean steps like shrinking the business class section of flights.