Airlines are beginning the slow process of putting schedules together for a return to the air and passengers are watching closely. With airlines having lost a lot of money so far (and still burning through millions each day), it is certainly a delicate time for the airlines and there are some tough decisions they are having to make.
Europe Is Starting to Slowly Open and Airlines Want to Be Ready
Even though the EU Commission is recommending that Europe remain “closed” to travelers from other countries for another month, many people are already planning their hopeful trips to Europe. These trips may not be for June or July but airlines are really hoping they are.
The Lufthansa group (Lufthansa, SWISS, Austrian, and others) are beginning to expand their schedule and destination list with 106 destinations set for June. This will be done while also requiring the use of masks by both passengers and crew onboard as of now.
Turkish Airlines is beginning to resume their flight schedule slowly as they restart international services on May 28. This includes flights within Europe as well as to the US.
Even US airlines are plotting their return to Europe with schedules for travel to Greece already set up. For many, Greece is the country in Europe to watch and where many vacationing hopefuls are eyeing a sun-bathed getaway as early as July 1.
But, The Airlines Have Tough Decisions
While this is good news, there are also some tough decisions airlines will need to make as they start their new schedules. Already, they have had to refund billions in cash to passengers who had their flights canceled due to schedules that were affected by COVID-19. Airlines have been pushing extremely hard to not have to pay customers their cash back but to offer alternatives like vouchers.
Need Customers But Don’t Want to Refund for Cancellations
With those struggles in mind, airlines really do not want to set schedules only to have to cancel them and face the frustration of customers as they try to get their money back once again. Because of that concern, there will be many customers that will not be booking flights for travel to Europe for even June or July as they wait to see if flights will really happen.
And this is what makes this so tough for airlines. Airlines need people buying tickets. To do that, they have to offer flights. But, if they are forced to cancel those flights once again, they face having to refund customers and possibly losing those customers on early flights when schedules are finally set.
Flight Schedules That Accommodate Transfer Passengers
Which destinations to airlines put on their fresh schedules and what frequency of flights do they offer? They need full planes eventually but they also have to make sure that their flight schedules sync up for customers coming from places like the US to Europe. At this point, there will be many travelers that are not going to want to overnight in some country on their way to Greece.
So, where will they fly, how often, what markets will be best suited for tourists this summer, and more are questions facing the airlines. How they will answer them will have a big move in how they are able to jump back into the travel game and attract customers once again.