Coronavirus: Lufthansa expects to cancel 33,000 flights this winter because of Omicron, according to the press

BERLIN (Reuters) – Lufthansa plans to cancel 33. 000 flights from its program of winter due to the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus responsible for COVID – 19, which leads to new travel restrictions, said the chairman of the board of the German group of air transport, Carsten Spohr, to the newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

“From mid-January until February, we expect a sharp drop in bookings”, he said declared to the weekly, specifying that the 33. canceled flights corresponded to approximately 10% of the winter flight schedule.

This decrease in reservations is particularly evident in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Belgium, all countries particularly affected by the epidemic resumption, observed Carsten Spohr.

He clarified that the number of flights canceled in January due to the drop in demand should have been even higher if the group had not had to charter flights to ensure maintain take-off and landing slots.

“We must operate 18. additional flights superfluous over the winter period simply to secure our take-off and landing slots “, he stressed, deploring that the European Union is not doing more to reduce the scale of these” ghost flights “, reverse of its objectives of combating global warming.

European rules, which force airlines to use 80% of their slots to keep them the following year, have been lightened since the start of the pandemic .

The European Commission had set the slot utilization rate at 50% for the winter 2021 – 2022 and adopted in mid-December a rate of 64% for the next flight schedule over the summer period (from 28 March to 29 October 2022).

(Report Miranda Murray, French version Myriam Rivet, edited by Bertrand Boucey)