German flag carrier Lufthansa is reportedly pre-emptively canceling many flights for the coming summer – and it could cancel yet more.
In the past few weeks, we have seen two small European airlines declare bankruptcy. Flybe and Flyr had very different histories. Flybe had already gone bankrupt once and was essentially Flybe 2.0. Flyr was a promising startup, which may have grown a bit too quickly, struggling to find the capital it needed to weather the winter.
Fortunately, it seems that these two airlines were the exception, not the rule. Mainline carriers like Lufthansa and low-cost or leisure operators like Easyjet report improving finances and healthy demand for summer flights. Holiday operator TUI reports robust bookings for next summer and for the following winter.
Lufthansa Cancels Flights – Why?
Nevertheless, according to the German publication WirtschaftsWoche, Lufthansa is planning to cancel 34,000 flights in the coming summer. The changes to the airline’s schedule involve two of its hubs, Frankfurt and Munich. The number of cancellations could vary, as the carrier looks closer at its summer schedule.
However, these cancellations only involve the carrier’s own summer routes, for now. More canceled flights could involve other airlines in the Lufthansa group, like SWISS and Eurowings. So why is the airline doing this? Without an official statement from the airline, we have to speculate. But there is at least one very likely reason, that could affect more airlines in Europe and elsewhere.
Last year, Lufthansa, KLM, British Airways, and many others had to cancel thousands of flights because of airport disruptions. Some of these involved strikes, as workers in the aviation industry aimed to roll back the worst of the pandemic’s effects on their terms and conditions. Lufthansa itself just went through a difficult weekend, with many flights canceled or delayed, due to airport strike actions. This closely followed a disruption due to an IT issue.
Not Enough Airport Personnel
But a lot of last year’s disruptions had to do with airports not having enough personnel on the ramp, in security screening, and in other key positions. Airport authorities expect things to go much more smoothly this year. However, some airports report difficulties in hiring staff in some key positions.
Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport may not have the staff its management wants until the end of June. Schiphol suffered from serious disruptions in the summer of 2022. Its management is considering the introduction of lower limits for passengers in May.
We will have to wait until Lufthansa and other carriers announce more concrete plans about this summer’s flights. Last year, some airports complained that they had asked airlines and airline bodies for estimates on their capacity – and that these airlines underestimated these numbers. The fact that there are discussions on the matter already in February, hopefully means that we won’t see a repeat of last summer’s airport chaos.