With borders closed and both domestic and international travel banned due to Covid-19, many airlines in Europe are finding it difficult to support operations. The absence of government tax vacations, investor funding, and travel bookings have made temporary closures the only viable solution for some airline carriers. But as the global lockdown drags on, these airline companies are worried if their shutdown will move from being a temporary one to a permanent one.
France’s smallest fleet gets even smaller
La Compagnie – one of the world’s smallest fleets and France’s smallest – has decided to temporarily pull the plug on its operations, following the announcement of global travel restrictions. Although France is yet to completely seal-off its borders, travel is still proving a problem due to international lockdown.
The French airline, which exclusively serves the Paris-New Jersey & Nice-New Jersey routes, was one of the victims of President Trump’s ban on non-US nationals travelling to the country.
La Compagnie has confirmed that it will resume operations once both France and the US lift their travel bans.
Across the sea, Ireland & Britain suspend airline routes
Alongside France, Ireland’s budgeted carrier Ryanair and Britain’s most economical carrier EasyJet have both suspended operations indefinitely. This comes right after a sudden surge in the number of coronavirus victims in both countries.
Currently, Ryanair plans to resume operations from June. However, this is still a tentative schedule and may be changed if the pandemic worsens. EasyJet is yet to confirm when it will restart its flights.
Polish & Latvian travellers left in the lurch due to airline closures
In the Eastern European region, Poland’s flag bearer LOT Polish Airlines and Latvia’s flag carrier Air Baltic have both closed down operations temporarily, in order to contain the spread of the pandemic.
Although not as terribly affected as other countries, Poland has closed its borders for an indefinite period of time. This has led LOT to stop not just its Polish operations, but also its Hungary based operations.
The case is the same with Latvia, where the Government announced that it would take a call regarding the travel ban post April 15th. Now, Air Baltic has stopped all of its routes in Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania.
As part of the Schengen list, both Poland and Latvia have also been affected by the US travel ban. Even if the airlines were to resume operations, they would, for the moment, serve only the European routes.
SAS decides to call it quits temporarily due to lack of demand
The flag carrier for the entire region up north – Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) – has also followed the example of its European counterparts and closed down most of the major air routes.
The primary reason isn’t the containment of the pandemic, but the lack of travel bookings. SAS’s major customer base is in Denmark. But with the Danish Government having banned international travel until further notice, the airline has experienced a massive drop in bookings.
With other countries like the US and UK not allowing foreign visitors, SAS’s long-haul flights have had to be grounded too.
Non-European carriers too suspend operations
In addition to European airline carriers, many non-European airlines have also put a stop to commercial operations. Royal Jordanian (flag carrier airline of Jordan), Air India (flag bearer for India) and Emirates (flag carrier for Dubai) have all cut down on numerous routes, as their respective nations have sealed their borders until further notice.