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New chaos in sight - Lufthansa is already canceling flights in winter

The airlines and their customers are still stuck in the holiday chaos about delayed or canceled flights and missing suitcases.

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New chaos in sight - Lufthansa is already canceling flights in winter

The airlines and their customers are still stuck in the holiday chaos about delayed or canceled flights and missing suitcases. But it is already becoming apparent that the system will continue to be overloaded after the summer. Germany's largest airline is already gearing up for a turbulent winter - and is canceling flights as a precaution. After chaos is before chaos.

"Since the bottlenecks in the aviation industry are expected to largely remain in place through the winter of 2022/23 and the effects of the corona virus are not foreseeable in the coming months, Lufthansa has now adjusted the winter flight schedule from Frankfurt and Munich and canceled flights." , confirmed a spokesman for Lufthansa at the request of WELT.

The aim of the measure is to relieve the system over the next few months and over the winter and to make the flight schedule for guests “reliable in the long term”.

After the airline had canceled more than 6,000 flights, often very much, due to a lack of staff and congestion at the airports in the summer, there will now also be cancellations in the winter flight schedule, which will be in effect from October 30th to April 1st. Unlike last-minute cancellations, passengers are not entitled to compensation payments for cancellations made at least 14 days in advance.

The cancellations should primarily affect domestic German and intra-European connections on which there are alternative transport options for passengers, i.e. other flights or rail connections. In some cases, however, long-haul flights should also be affected.

Lufthansa did not say exactly which flights will be canceled and how many there are in total. "In addition, a total number of canceled flights cannot be determined without effort, since isolated daily cancellations due to external factors such as weather or strikes can be added," said the spokesman. The airline is currently negotiating with the Cockpit pilots' association, which has already paved the way for possible strikes by ballot.

The early cancellations indicate that Lufthansa is not expecting the situation at the airports to calm down anytime soon. How big the mess in the air and on the ground actually was in the last few weeks is illustrated by a number that emerged from a current inquiry in the Hessian state parliament.

According to information from the Ministry of Economic Affairs in Wiesbaden, Lufthansa carried out 598 so-called positioning flights at the hub in Frankfurt between June 1st and July 18th. In other words, empty flights with nobody on board apart from the crew. While thousands of passengers were grounded due to canceled flights, almost 600 planes flew empty seats.

The ghost planes are said to have taken off from or to Frankfurt, especially in the evening hours. Operations of this kind, known in industry circles as “ferry”, become necessary when the tightly scheduled flight schedule is disrupted by unforeseen events.

If a plane does not take off to its destination as planned, the machine is missing there for the next flight planned with it. There is a threat of a domino effect. In order to avoid a chain of further flight cancellations, airlines sometimes resort to the unpopular means of empty flights.

Earlier in the summer it had already become known that Lufthansa had operated 40 ferry flights on a single summer weekend, a historic record.

Lufthansa board member Detlef Kayser had spoken of individual cases at the time. “Planes only fly empty in exceptional cases. Unfortunately, in rare cases it is necessary, ”explained the operations board in an interview with WELT.

“For example, if an aircraft cannot be handled abroad because there is a lack of staff at the airport, but the aircraft is needed again later to take guests on board somewhere else. In exceptional cases, it can then make sense to transfer this aircraft in order to transport the other passengers on time.”

The now known extent of around a hundred empty flights per week shows how chaotic the start of flight operations to Corona is.

Defective machines apparently also cause problems for the airlines. Planes are said to be canceled again and again because there are more cases of bird strikes. During the Corona break, the assumption is that the birds apparently adjusted to the empty airspace. Not only the airlines, but also the birds have to get used to flight operations again.

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