Vaccination hopes for air traffic: How long will the air crisis last?

Vaccination hopes for air traffic: How long will the air crisis last?

Corona hit the aviation industry hard. As vaccinations progress, airlines are optimistic and hope to recover quickly. This could be premature.

Andreas Clarysse, HR

When you look at the shares of airlines, you can almost believe that the crisis will end soon. Shares of Lufthansa have risen about 50 percent in the last few weeks and are now back at more than 10 euros. The value of Ryanair’s shares has doubled since March 2020. Does this mean that airlines will soon leave the corona crisis behind?

Airlines are spreading optimism

At the very least, the industry is trying to spread optimism. Aviation managers have repeatedly emphasized that the crisis can be completely overcome by 2022 at the latest. With the vaccine, which has been vaccinated around the world for several weeks, it would soon be possible to travel more by plane very soon – either on presentation of a vaccination card, as announced by Australian Quantas. negative rapid PCR test.

“The saliva corona test is now also offered at Zurich airport,” he says ARD– aviation expert Michael Immel. “It’s so simple that passengers can do it themselves. But it’s not even completely cheap. “

Thanks to these perspectives, members of the airline’s board of directors rejoice: Lufthansa boss Carsten Spohr expects his company to be able to reach an average of half the passenger level in 20121 in 209. Initially lower, but “we expect up to 70 percent for summer and autumn” , Spohr stated in relation to the “Wirtschaftswoche”.

“But the mutating virus also shows that airlines are unbeatable,” says Immel. “Concerns about the spread of a new variant of the corona virus have severely affected air traffic during the Christmas holidays. This is slowing down the expected recovery on some routes,” he said. ARD– Aviation expert. For example, Lufthansa’s subsidiary, Austrian Airlines, had to remove flights from South Africa and the United Kingdom from its program by January 24 at the behest of the Austrian government.

Real hope or purposeful optimism?

Ralf Teckentrup, head of the holiday airline Condor, also expects strong growth this year. The flight schedule looks almost like before the pandemic began, the director said recently. “Demand in the summer of 2021 should be as high as 75 percent of the pre-crisis period,” confirms Condor spokeswoman Magdalena Hauser.

Is the near future really that rosy, or is it more like “whistling in the woods” because industry managers are afraid of another uncertain future? IATA has calculated that airlines will lose nearly $ 100 billion worldwide in 2020. In 2021, almost 40 billion louses are to be added. But how are these amounts to be reimbursed if airlines cannot yet say how they can make money again?

“Market suffering in the aviation industry has been delayed for years. The corona crisis will accelerate,” says expert Immel. “We already see a number of airlines in serious financial turmoil. In some cases, they are only kept artificially alive from state funds. “

More economical aircraft should reduce costs

The example of Lufthansa clearly shows how difficult it is to be in full numbers again. The group must drastically reduce personnel costs, approximately 29,000 jobs have been lost worldwide, and short-term work and crisis agreements are designed to help manage these losses. At least 150 aircraft from the fleet of the 760 nozzle group will no longer take off permanently.

Instead, they will rent kerosene-saving nozzles in the future. Thanks to that, you won’t get any money in the short term. The Lufthansa group does not necessarily have to be “greener”, but the new one now has a significantly lower impact on the environment than the old one. Even before the pandemic, Lufthansa is proud to launch a new environmentally friendly aircraft every two weeks for several years, which consumes a quarter less fuel than older models.

The target group instead of business travelers are tourists

And the growing number of passengers does not automatically make Lufthansa a “dairy cow”. Because it is certain that the number of business travelers who have previously traveled on first-class or business trips will fall very sharply. This would place an enormous burden on the industry: so far it has lived well for fully paying people and cross-subsidized cheap tariffs.

Since the inception of video conferencing and online meetings, Lufthansa estimates a drop in business travelers of ten to 20 percent. Pessimists fear a twice as high decline. Like the competition, Lufthansa wants to compensate for this bitter loss by increasing its entry into the holiday business.

“In the future, Lufthansa will also rely on a new tourism platform.” Ocean “is the name of a project that is currently being intensively promoted. Because the group also wants to make decent money in the future, because in the future the holiday airline should be helped to break through with ‘Ocean’, “he says. ARD– aviation expert Immel.

As part of the “Ocean” project, the crane airline wants to compete with budget airlines. Long-distance hiking trails from Frankfurt and Munich are to be connected on one platform, of course, to be cheaper. However, the competition is not sleeping: the low-cost airline Ryanair was already threatened with aggressive competitive prices when it was restarted. And so ticket prices for customers remain low – but it is unlikely that airlines will make big profits in this business area.

Long-term plans are hardly possible

If you look at the business outlook for 2021, forecasts complicate another phenomenon. “In the past,” said a spokeswoman for Condor Hauser, “long-distance flights were mainly booked six to eight months before the start of the journey. This period has now been reduced to ten to fourteen days. Medium-term calculations are hardly possible. “

So while the number of bookings may increase this year, the end of the crisis is far from in sight. If the lock is further extended and, for example, viral mutations limit global mobility for a longer period of time, then optimism and stock market prices could fall faster than would be good for business.

Mark James

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