Coronavirus: Lufthansa worries about ‘future of aviation’ without state aid

Coronavirus: Lufthansa worries about 'future of aviation' without state aid
Numberous Lufthansa planes parked in Frankfurt's airport on Monday. Photo: DPA
The chief executive of German airline giant Lufthansa warned Thursday that governments might need to save the industry from the coronavirus crisis, as "drastic cutbacks in flight operations" have grounded over 90 percent of its planes.

Some 700 of Lufthansa's 763 aircraft are “temporarily parked” following massive reductions in its flight operations over the coming weeks “due to entry restrictions in many countries and a collapse in demand,” the group said.

“The longer this crisis lasts, the more likely it is that the future of aviation cannot be guaranteed without state aid,” chief executive Carsten Spohr said in a statement.

READ ALSO: 'Exceptional crisis': Lufthansa to slash long-haul flights by up to 90 percent

Lufthansa stated on Friday that it would be applying for state aid from Germany – which unleashed its biggest post-war air package in response to the coronavirus – and several European governments. 

A “relief flight schedule” set to run until April 19th will see Lufthansa and its subsidiaries operate “a total of about five percent of the originally planned program,” with Austrian Airlines suspending almost all flights until March 28th and Brussels Airlines between March 21st and April 19th.

Meanwhile the group's flagship airline will operate remaining long-haul flights from Frankfurt only, wiping out departures from second German hub Munich.

Lufthansa planes will also carry out “around 140 special relief flights” for over 20,000 passengers, as governments in its carriers' home countries repatriate citizens stranded abroad after travel restrictions slammed down.

And its cargo division's aircraft will remain airborne, continuing its regular flight plan apart from connections with mainland China.

“The company is currently examining the possibility of using passenger aircraft without passengers… to further increase cargo capacity,” Lufthansa said.

Finance director Ulrik Svensson added that the group is “financially well equipped” to weather the corona storm, with 4.3 billion euros of liquidity on hand.

Lufthansa also has “unused credit lines” and “further funds are currently being raised,” the group said.

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