European airlines map out network restoration plans

Major European carriers, including Air France, Eurowings and Finnair, are gearing up to increase their flying programs subject to the easing of travel restrictions.

More European airlines have confirmed plans to expand their flight schedules in June and July, gradually piecing back together networks that have been shattered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Air France said that by the end of June it is aiming to operate about 15% of its normal schedule using 75 of its 224 aircraft. Routes earmarked for resumption include Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) to Cairo (CAI), Dubai (DXB) and Milan (MXP).

Since the end of March, the airline has been operating between 3-5% of its usual schedule, with a focus on maintaining service to the French regions and links with key destinations in Europe.

The SkyTeam alliance member warned the new schedule was likely to change and said increased flights were subject to government authorizations. 

Eurowings plans to add 40 destinations to its network in June, with a focus on connecting German cities with leisure hotspots like Palma (PMI) on the island of Mallorca, Spain. In addition, domestic connections from Cologne/Bonn (CGN), Düsseldorf (DUS), Hamburg (HAM), Munich (MUC) and Stuttgart (STR) will be “significantly increased.”

“We can feel the growing desire of people to travel again and relax and enjoy their holidays after a long period of travel ban,” Eurowings CEO Jens Bischof said.

“This is exactly what we are now making possible with our extended summer schedule—reliably, safely and with all due caution. Travelling, whether private or professional, will be possible again.”

Eurowings’ parent Lufthansa is also restoring a string of destinations over the coming weeks. As reported by Airlineroute, the carrier has filed schedule resumptions for flights from Frankfurt (FRA) to DXB, Mexico City (MEX) and Toronto (YYZ) among others.

Fellow Star Alliance member LOT Polish Airlines will begin domestic flights on June 1 with about 30 services per day. The airline will offer up to 3X-daily service between Warsaw (WAW) and Gdańsk (GDN), as well as up to 2X-daily from WAW to, Kraków (KRK), Poznań (POZ), Rzeszów (RZE), Szczecin (SZZ), Wrocław (WRO) and Zielona Góra (IEG). However, LOT’s international operations will remain suspended until June 14.

Finally, Finnair has announced it will gradually add frequencies and routes back to its network from July. On long-haul routes, the carrier will connect Helsinki (HEL) to Beijing (PEK) and Shanghai (PVG) in China, subject to government approval; to Nagoya (NGO), Osaka (KIX) and Tokyo Narita (NRT) in Japan; and to Bangkok (BKK), HKG, Seoul (ICN) and Singapore (SIN).

Delhi (DEL) and New York (JFK) will return as Finnair destinations in August, while flights to Tokyo Haneda (HND) will come back in November. Finnair also has flights to Miami (MIA) and Thai resorts Krabi (KBV) and Phuket (HKT) lined up for the winter holiday season.

“We expect aviation to recover gradually, starting in July,” Finnair CCO Ole Orvér said. “Our intention is to operate approximately 30% of our normal amount of flights in July, and we will also start long-haul flights to our key Asian destinations. We will then add routes and frequencies month by month as demand recovers.”

On European routes, Finnair will first focus on key centres, and will in July fly to 25 destinations including Budapest (BUD), FRA and Vienna (VIE).

Photo credit: Nigel Howarth / Aviation Week

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