- Lufthansa is cancelling 900 flights and hundreds of Eurowings flights in July.
- Though demand is rebounding, "the infrastructure has not yet been fully restored," Lufthansa said.
- The German airline's workforce has fallen by nearly a quarter since the pandemic started.
- For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.
Lufthansa, Germany's flagship air carrier, is cancelling nearly 1,000 flights over the summer because it can't find enough staff.
The airline has cancelled around 900 domestic and short-haul European flights originally scheduled to depart from its hubs in Frankfurt and Munich in July, a spokesperson told Insider.
The cancelled flights were due to depart on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, and the spokesperson said that they make up around 5% of its average weekend schedule.
Eurowings, Lufthansa Group's budget airline brand, was also "forced to take several hundred flights out of the system to stabilise its service for July," the spokesperson said.
Though passengers are returning to the skies as demand for both leisure and business travel rebounds, "the infrastructure has not yet been fully restored," the spokesperson said.
"The entire aviation industry, especially in Europe, is currently suffering from bottlenecks and staff shortages," the spokesperson continued. "This applies to airports, ground handling services, air traffic control, and also airlines."
Airlines have struggled to balance their staffing levels to changing numbers of people wanting to fly, alternating between furloughs, layoffs, and hiring sprees. Airlines including Delta, JetBlue, Alaska, and British Airways have cut their summer schedules due to surging demand and staffing challenges.
Lufthansa Group said in a presentation accompanying its 2021 annual report that it had completed "unprecedented workforce reduction" in Germany to adapt to "structural market changes" as part of a plan to reduce its personnel expenses by up to 20% compared with 2019. It said that across 2020 and 2021 its total number of employees had fallen by nearly a quarter to 105,000, including a 31% reduction among ground staff.
In 2021, around 4,500 staff agreed to leave the company through voluntary redundancy programmes. Lufthansa Group said this "helped to reduce the workforce in a socially responsible way and to avoid compulsory redundancies."
Across 2020 and 2021, the reduced headcount was matched with a huge drop in the number of flights and passengers. The number of passengers flying with the airline dropped by two-thirds in 2021 compared with 2019.
But Lufthansa is set to have a busy summer. It said that it expected its flight capacity to increase to around 85% of 2019 levels in summer 2022, rising to 95% for short- and medium-haul routes. Eurowings' summer flight schedule would be even bigger than it was in 2019, it added.
The spokesperson said that Lufthansa and Eurowings had implemented measures to keep their flight schedules stable but that "it is foreseeable that the flight schedules will not be able to be flown as hoped due to the bottlenecks."
The spokesperson said that passengers will be informed of cancelations immediately and rebooked onto other flights where possible.
"Lufthansa and Eurowings have not made the decision lightly and regret the cancelations and the inconvenience this will cause guests," the spokesperson said.