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Germany’s Lufthansa to slash more jobs as it loses €500 million a month

Lufthansa said Monday it will slash more jobs on top of 22,000 previously announced cuts, as well as put more planes out of service, because it is currently losing some €500 million a month.

Germany's Lufthansa to slash more jobs as it loses €500 million a month
Lufthansa planes at Frankfurt's airport in March. Photo: DPA

With demand set to be lower than expected through winter as the coronavirus pandemic continues to severely curtail travel, the airline said it now plans to reduce its fleet by 150 planes by 2025.

It had previously estimated it would have to scrap 100 aircraft in response to the unprecedented crisis in the aviation sector.

Lufthansa, which received a government bailout worth €9 billion in June, said it would have to book €1.1 billion in impairment over its fleet decision.

And “the previously announced personnel surplus amounting to 22,000 full-time positions will increase as a result of the decisions taken,” it said.

READ ALSO: Coronavirus pandemic-hit Lufthansa to cut 22,000 jobs

The group did not give a figure for further job cuts, but said it would engage in talks with labour representatives to “limit the number of necessary redundancies”.

Managers will also be hit, with one in five management positions to go in the first quarter of 2021.

A resurgence in infections across Europe meant that after a brief uptick in demand over the summer months, Lufthansa's previous assumption that demand could reach half of last year's “no longer seems realistic”.

Germany is also planning new rules from October, requiring travellers arriving from risk zones to go into quarantine for at least five days before taking a test.

That would essentially rule out intra-Europe weekend city hops — something which had resumed over the summer months.

“The continuing high level of uncertainty in global air traffic makes short-term adjustments to the current market situation unavoidable for the foreseeable future,” said the group.

As part of its fleet reduction, the airline said it has been forced to put its eight remaining A380s as well as 10 A340-600s into deep storage.

Six A380s had already been taken out of service earlier this year.

READ ALSO: How Germany's Lufthansa is lifting off again as lockdowns ease

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COVID-19

Pandemic in Germany unlikely to end this year, says top virologist

High profile German virologist Christian Drosten believes Germany will see a severe spike in Covid infections after summer, and that the pandemic will not become endemic this year.

Pandemic in Germany unlikely to end this year, says top virologist

Drosten previously said that Germany would probably be able to declare the end of the pandemic this year.

But in an interview with Spiegel, Drosten said he had reevaluated his opinion. 

“When the Alpha variant came, it was very surprising for me. When Delta appeared I was sceptical at first, then with Omicron we had to reorient ourselves again. And since January there have already been new Omicron subtypes.

“So I would actually like to correct myself: I no longer believe that by the end of the year we will have the impression that the pandemic is over.”

READ ALSO: End is in sight for pandemic in Germany, says virologist 

Drosten also said that Germany will not see a largely Covid-free summer, which has been the case in previous years, and a further increase in infections in autumn. 

“We are actually already seeing an exponential increase in case numbers again,” Drosten said.

“The BA.5 variant (of Omicron) is simply very transmissible, and people are losing their transmission protection from the last vaccination at the same time.”

In other countries, he said, when the number of cases become high, hospitalisation and death rates also rise again. “Unfortunately, that will also be the case here,” said Drosten, but added: “Overall, however, far fewer people will become seriously ill and die than in 2021.”

Drosten said he expected many more infections from September.

“I hope that the school holidays will dampen the increase in cases somewhat. But from September, I fear we will have very high case numbers,” the head of the virology department at Berlin’s Charité hospital told Spiegel.

READ ALSO: German Health Minister lays out autumn Covid plan

Virologist Christian Drosten at a Covid press conference in 2021.

Virologist Christian Drosten at a Covid press conference in 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

If the government does not take any action, he predicted there would be a lot of sick leave across all industries. “That will become a real problem,” he said.

Drosten said he did not expect overcrowded intensive care units in Germany.

But the new BA.5 sub-variant, which is becoming dominant in Germany, may affect people more strongly. 

“The wheel is turning more towards disease again,” said Drosten. It is not true that a virus automatically becomes more and more harmless in the course of evolution. “That makes me even more worried about the autumn,” he said.

Drosten recommends wearing masks indoors during the colder months, saying it is “the least painful” measure.

If, in addition, “up to 40 million people could be immunised or given a booster vaccination” before winter, for example by urgently calling for company vaccinations, that would “really make a difference”, Drosten said.

In the long term, he said it’s inevitable that people will become infected with coronavirus.

He said the population immunity due to vaccinations and infections will at some point be so strong that the virus will become less important. “Then we will be in an endemic state,” said Drosten. In the worst case, however, this could take “several more winters”.

However, Drosten warned against people trying to deliberately infect themselves with Covid, saying getting the infection in summer doesn’t mean people will be protected in winter. 

Drosten himself said he has not yet contracted Covid-19.

“So far, I guess I’ve just been lucky,” he said. “I rarely put myself in risky situations, but I’m not overly cautious either.”

‘Pandemic depends on behaviour’

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI)’s latest weekly report, more outbreaks are occurring in care homes, and the number of patients in intensive care units is slightly rising as infections go up. 

The institute said there had been a 23 percent increase in the 7-day incidence compared to the previous week. On Friday the 7-day incidence stood at 618.2 infections per 100,000 people. There were 108,190 infections within the latest 24 hour period and 90 deaths. 

“The further course of the pandemic depends not only on the occurrence of new virus variants and the uptake of vaccinations on offer, it also depends to a large extent on the behaviour of the population,” said the RKI.

According to the DIVI intensive care register, the number of Covid-19 patients in ICUs had increased to 810 on Thursday this week, from about 600 at the beginning of the month.

However, that number is still low compared to previous Covid peaks when thousands of people were in intensive care in Germany. 

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