Due to the renewed enormous impact of the corona pandemic on the booking figures of almost all airlines, the Lufthansa Group decided to drastically reduce capacity over the winter. All of the group’s passenger flight operations are affected, but the red pen is probably the strongest at Eurowings.
No other airline has so far reduced Austria-Germany traffic as much as the Lufthansa cheap subsidiary. The main cause is undoubtedly the travel warning from the Germans, which can lead to the obligation to quarantine. From November 8, 2020, Germany also wants to isolate people who can show a negative PCR test for five days. These are - to put it sarcastically - terrific prospects for traffic between the two countries, because this has a very high proportion of private customers. This is gradually disappearing, with the proportion of business travelers anyway - compared to the time before the pandemic - is very low. In other words: even the smallest machines that Eurowings has available are too big. Many routes and frequencies can no longer be operated profitably with the Airbus A319.
Apparently, Eurowings is now taking revenge for having "thrown out" the DHC Dash 8-400 operated by Zeitfracht subsidiary Luftfahrtgesellschaft Walter at the beginning of the corona pandemic. Since then, this has been running flat at Bratislava Airport, among other places. The sister company Austrian Airlines still has an advantage because it can fall back on the turboprops that are still available.
The occupancy rate of many flights is currently extremely worrying - regardless of the airline. Machines with fewer than 20 passengers are no longer the absolute exception, but unfortunately the rule. Of course, there are positive “outliers” upwards, but these are becoming fewer and fewer every day. Carsten Spohr described it well in his most recent circular: The current situation is absolutely comparable to that during the lockdown period.
At Austrian Airlines, the largest model will be the Airbus A319 on short and medium-haul routes. Also a type of machine that was actually intended to be phased out. The Airbus A320 jets are now proving to be too big and, due to a lack of demand, are difficult or even impossible to operate economically. The same applies to the Boeing 777 on long-haul routes, which is also not required.
According to the current status of planning, Austrian Airlines will contest the winter with the DHC Dash 8-400, Embraer 195 and Airbus A319 aircraft. The Boeing 767-300ER is used on the few long-haul routes. All other types are temporarily shut down or not reactivated. However, not all Airbus A320s should “hibernate” because some units will be kept ready as backup aircraft.
Slowly but surely, Austrian Airlines will also have to think about whether the decided phasing out of Dash should be postponed. Especially in Germany-Austria traffic, the routes that were last served with the Embraer 195 are increasingly being converted to the cheaper and smaller turboprop aircraft. The reason is simple: The demand is not sufficient for the use of the regional jet, so that the DHC Dash 8-400 is cheaper. No decision has yet been made about a possible “gallows period” for the turboprops, but the more the crisis worsens, the higher the probability that Austrian Airlines will operate the DHC Dash 8-400 longer, because the pattern is a decisive advantage over it the low-cost competition, whose smallest machines have around 180 seats.