The skies are getting crowded again as the demand for air travel is rising, and airlines are expanding their capacities getting ready for summer 2021. Experts see some hope coming back in the industry referring to the decline in infection numbers in Europe and the progress of national vaccination campaigns.
Lufthansa, for example, announced plans to reactivate up to 50 additional aircrafts in the coming weeks. "For eight weeks, the booking figures have been growing steadily, with a significant jump upwards last week," board member Harry Hohmeister said recently. "These were the strongest seven days since April 2020." For flights in July and August, demand was ten to eleven times higher than four weeks ago, he added.
For the industry as a whole, the seat capacities in Germany expected to return to around 60 percent of the 2019 summer level in July and August. In Switzerland, Lufthansa subsidiary Swiss expects the capacity to reach 50 to 55 percent of pre-crisis levels by summer.
Air Traffic in Typical Vacation Countries High Again
In most common summer vacation countries such as in Spain, Greece, Italy or even Turkey, the flight schedules for August are again 80 to 100 percent of 2019.
At the same time, Lufthansa CEO Hohmeister called on politicians to launch the digital vaccination passport by the end of June. "Otherwise, the summer 2021 travel season will be very inconvenient for customers," he said.
Pandemic Slows Down the Air Traffic
The airline industry has been hit hard by the pandemic, and the impact has also been "devastating" in the first few months of this year. In most months so far, passenger traffic in Europe has been 90 percent below the pre-crisis levels. In 2020 as a whole, the figure was 75 percent.
At the same time, environmental groups and politicians want to regulate the industry more closely because of its contribution to global warming. Rulings such as the recent one against the Shell oil company also show that climate protection can now also be successfully enforced against companies.
Court Decision Affecting Shell
According to a ruling by the District Court in The Hague, Shell must cut its CO2 emissions by a net 45 percent by 2030 as compared to 2019, more than it has done so far. The company intends to appeal.
The German Aerospace Industries Association (BDLI) also acknowledges that the pressure is generally increasing. The industry plans to create a market for sustainable fuels by 2030 with the help of the German federal government. The industry once again has the opportunity to play a pioneering role in the sustainable future of flying.