The airlines literally ran out of money, the return to the status quo will probably take years,
The airlines and airports have high hopes for this summer, should this business fail, there is a risk of even bigger cracks.
AUA had to be saved
The parent company Lufthansa also had to be absorbed by the state. Lufthansa and actually all the other airlines could not or did not want to compensate their customers for tickets already paid for in the spring.
The reimbursement payments for canceled flights only flowed with the state money in the company accounts.
In Austria, both AUA and the Ryanair subsidiary Lauda suspended their flight operations for a good three months. Since then, they have carried out significantly fewer flights than before the crisis. At the AUA there are still a few dozen planes standing around unused. At Lauda the company in Vienna was dissolved and Lauda Europe was founded in Malta. Instead of ten planes, only five should take off this summer. The pandemic also claimed its first victim last year with the bankrupt airline Level.
Pilots on short-time work
The crisis also hit the pilots and flight attendants who have been on short-time work for a year. Above all, the cockpit crews have to make sure that they manage their flight hours in order to obtain the flight license. This is why simulator hours are currently also counted as flight time. AUA and Vienna Airport say they will need short-time working for a very long time, i.e. years.
Due to the corona crisis, Vienna Airport handled 75 percent fewer passengers in 2020 than in 2019. The airport recorded the sharpest drop in passenger numbers in April and May 2020 with over 99 percent fewer passengers, but the minus was over 90 in June, November and December as well Percent. On the weakest day of the year, Easter Monday on April 13, 2020, just 154 travelers frequented the terminal building.
The board therefore also put the plans for the third runway on hold. For the time being, no further measures would be taken for the implementation, it said.
Return to normal for two or three years
According to the international industry association IATA, all airlines together made a loss of almost 120 billion dollars (100 billion euros) in 2020. Worldwide there were only 1.8 billion people on the plane last year – after 4.5 billion people in 2019. In 2003, there were fewer passengers worldwide, at that time just 1.7 billion.
However, only a few currently dare to make an exact forecast of when normality will return. “At the earliest in 2023, but more likely in 2024,” is the tenor from expert circles. The question remains whether this “normality” in the aviation industry will look the same as it did before the corona pandemic. While there is a global need to catch up in tourism, business travel is likely to decrease over the long term. Political measures against climate change could also slow the industry on the road to recovery.