The extended refusal of entry by Israeli authorities is directed at travelers from Germany, Switzerland, France, Spain and Austria, and will lead to a considerable drop in demand for flights to Israel. Lufthansa, SWISS and Austrian Airlines will cancel all their flights to Tel Aviv and Eilat as of Sunday for the remaining winter timetable period until 28 March. The Lufthansa Group sees itself forced to make this cancellation for economic and operational reasons, as many passengers are no longer entitled to enter the country due to Coronavirus concerns. All travelers returning to Israel from these regions a must to go into an immediate 14-day quarantine. Seven cases of Coronavirus have been identified so far in Bethlehem alone.
Lufthansa has cancelled 7,100 European flights in March. Due to the exceptional circumstances caused by the spread of the coronavirus and the decline in demand, the Lufthansa Group has also decided by reducing capacity by up to 25 per cent. The route cancellations and frequency adjustments correspond to a calculated capacity of 150 aircraft, of which 125 are short- and medium-haul and are 25 long haul. The Lufthansa Group fleet currently comprises around 770 aircraft, including some 180 long-haul aircraft. Until the end of March, Lufthansa is cancelling a total of about 7,100 flights (including 3,750 flights from Frankfurt to 75 airports, and 3,350 flights from Munich to 65 airports).
The focus is on domestic flights from the Frankfurt hub to Berlin, Munich and Hamburg as well as from Munich to Berlin, Hamburg, Düsseldorf, Cologne, Bremen and Hanover. These are high-frequency connections, some of which are operated up to every half hour by Lufthansa. This means that numerous rebooking options are available.
A second focus of the route cancellations and frequency adjustments is Italy. This includes the destinations Milan, Venice, Rome, Turin, Verona, Bologna, Ancona and Pisa.
Lufthansa passengers are advised to inform themselves about the current situation of the respective flight via lufthansa.com before departure. Guests who have submitted their contact details to Lufthansa will be proactively informed of the cancellations. This is because in addition to domestic German and Italian connections, other flights to Scandinavia, Great Britain, the Baltic States, Poland, Russia, France, Spain, Portugal, Great Britain, etc. are affected.
When cancelling routes, Lufthansa has taken into account the fact that all European destinations will continue to be serviced, so that in most cases customers can be offered a suitable alternative.
In addition, the airline had already decided last week to suspend flights from Germany to mainland China until 24 April inclusive. The connection to Tehran will remain cancelled until 30 April.
Lufthansa is also reducing frequencies in its route network to and from Hong Kong and Seoul (Korea), among others. Flights between Munich and Hong Kong will be suspended between March 6 and April 24. Passengers will be rebooked via Frankfurt and Zurich if possible during this period. Between 5 March and 24 April, some frequencies will also be cancelled on routes from Frankfurt and Munich to Seoul.
Other airlines are cutting back service and one airline company ceased operations completely this week. UK-based Flybe shut down this week following months of uncertainty, a event likely hastened by the travel havoc caused by the virus.
Norwegian has started to cut selected routes between Europe and the US in an announced pullback that will be executed between March 28 and May 5.
The low-cost carrier is cancelling a total of 22 long-haul flights, mostly between London and New York , as well as Rome and Los Angeles, and Boston and New York in an effort to stave the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.