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Austrian Airlines has announced it will temporarily suspend all scheduled flight operations as of Thursday.
The Lufthansa-owned carrier said it was reacting to restrictions imposed by many countries in response to the increased spread of the coronavirus.
As a result, the last flight (OS 066) will land in Vienna from Chicago at 08:20 on March 19th.
Until then, flight operations will be reduced in a controlled and structured manner in order to bring all passengers and crews home where possible.
Initially, Austrian Airlines will cancel all flights until March 28th and passengers who have booked a flight during this period will be rebooked on other airlines where possible.
In addition, Lufthansa Group airlines will further reduce their short- and long-haul schedule.
The cancellations, which will be published today will lead to a sharp decline in long-haul service particularly in the Middle East, Africa and Central and South America.
Overall, the Lufthansa Group’s seating capacity on long-haul routes will be reduced by up to 90 per cent.
A total of 1,300 weekly connections were originally planned for summer 2020.
Within Europe the flight schedule will also be reduced further.
Starting today, it is predicted that 20 per cent of the originally planned seating capacity will still be offered.
Typically, 11,700 weekly short-haul flights were planned for summer 2020 across the Lufthansa Group airlines.
The additional cancellations will be published over the next few days and passengers will be informed accordingly.
Despite the large-scale cancellations, Lufthansa, Eurowings and Austrian Airlines have scheduled more than 20 special flights with over 6,000 passengers at short notice to fly cruise and holidaymakers back home.
Since thousands of German, Austrian, Swiss and Belgian citizens are still waiting to return to their home countries, Lufthansa Group airlines have planned for further evacuation flights and are in close contact with the governments of their home countries concerning this.
Carsten Spohr, chief executive of Deutsche Lufthansa, said: “Now it is no longer about economic issues, but about the responsibility that airlines bear as part of the critical infrastructure in their home countries.”
Lufthansa will work with airports and air traffic controllers to develop a coordinated concept for maintaining the critical infrastructure.