Category Archives: Austrian Airlines

Austrian Airlines will offer more flights starting in July

Austrian Airlines has made this announcement:

• Palma de Mallorca added to the flight schedule
• Resumption of service to Zadar
• More flight connections to Dubrovnik, Split, Thessaloniki and Nice

Austrian Airlines is further expanding its summer flight schedule. As of July, a charter flight will be operated once a week to Palma de Mallorca, always on a Saturday. Fans of Croatia will be pleased with the resumption of flights to Zadar. Starting in July, Austria’s national airline will fly to Croatia’s coastal city every Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Moreover, Austrian Airlines is doubling the number of flights to Dubrovnik and Split to up to six connections per week. As of July, there will also be one daily flight to Thessaloniki (instead of four each week). Flight service to Nice will be expanded from four to five weekly flights. As a result, passengers aiming to spend their summer holidays on the beach have a large selection of flights to choose from. In addition to Mallorca, destinations on the Croatian coast and the Côte d’Azur, Austrian Airlines will also offer various flight connections to Greek holiday islands such as Karpathos, Kos, Rhodes, Santorini or Zakynthos.

“The lifting of many travel restrictions within Europe, a recent example being Spain, enables us to expand our offering correspondingly”, says Austrian Airlines CCO Andreas Otto. “Naturally, the respective local safety regulations must continue to be observed, for example with respect to wearing masks. Otherwise there is nothing which stands in the way of enjoying a summer holiday on the beach”, he adds.

Austrian Airlines aircraft photo gallery:

Austrian Airlines to deploy 36 planes and quadruple capacity from July

Austrian Airlines has made this announcement:

  • Over 50 destinations on the program from July
  • Number of flights to various destinations will be increased
  • “Summer is the most popular travel season”, says CCO Andreas Otto

Following the successful restart, the ramp-up of Austrian Airlines’ flight operations continues to proceed according to plan.

Starting in July, Austria’s home carrier will fly to over 50 destinations. These include various European capitals and major cities, Greek holiday islands and long-haul destinations. City and holiday destinations are particularly in demand.

In order to give passengers more choice when planning their journey, Austrian Airlines is increasing the number of flight connections.

For example, Austria’s home carrier will fly to Zurich up to three times a day in July. Paris, Brussels and Hamburg as well as other destinations will be connected up to twice daily.

The number of flights to Eastern Europe will also increase, for example to Sofia and Bucharest (up to two daily flights instead of one).

In total, the restart offer will quadruple from initially five to 20 percent of last year’s program, subject to new official restrictions.

For the increased flight schedule, Austrian Airlines will deploy 36 aircraft from July onwards, i.e. almost half of its fleet. These include three Boeing 767s, which will be used for the long-haul routes to Bangkok, Chicago, New York and Washington, as well as mostly smaller aircraft such as Airbus A319, Embraer 195 and Dash 8.

Austrian Airlines aircraft photo gallery:

Austrian Airlines receives financial aid from the Federal Government and Lufthansa

Austrian Airlines has made this announcement:

• EUR 150 million in state aid to cover coronavirus-related losses; ecological requirements imposed
• EUR 150 million injection of equity capital by Lufthansa
• EUR 300 million as bank loans to be repaid by 2026
• Rescue package designed to ensure maintaining flight hub to CEE and long-haul flight connections

The Austrian Federal Government, Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines have reached an agreement on the cornerstones of a EUR 600 million coronavirus rescue package for the national network carrier Austrian Airlines. The financial assistance is designed to support efforts to sustainably safeguard Vienna as an aviation hub in the long term, including its flight connections to Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and to long-haul destinations. According to the Austrian Economic Chambers, EUR 2.7 billion in domestic value creation, 17,500 jobs and EUR 1 billion in taxes and duties are linked to Austrian Airlines and its Vienna flight hub.

The Republic of Austria will contribute EUR 150 million in financial assistance to cover the losses incurred as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. In return, the Austrian Federal Government has received long-term, binding commitments to the Vienna aviation hub linked to strict ecological requirements. The entire financing package is dependent on state aid for Lufthansa in Germany, the approval of all corporate bodies and the consent of the EU Commission.

“Austrian Airlines has been and is a fundamental part of the multi-hub strategy pursued by Lufthansa Group. Thanks to this rescue package in combination with the improved framework conditions of the Austrian aviation system partners, we see ourselves in a position to rebuild the flight hub in Vienna after the crisis and connect Austria with important destinations in Europe and throughout the world”, states Carsten Spohr, Chief Executive Officer of Lufthansa Group.

The location requirements aim to reposition Austrian Airlines in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis and generate sufficient funds to pay back the loans. The airline will attach particular importance to the environment and sustainability in its ongoing fleet modernization drive.

The following requirements with a focus on sustainability were specified, amongst others:

• Austrian Airlines will shift passenger traffic to the railways on short-haul flights inasmuch as an adequate infrastructure is available and direct accessibility to Vienna Airport is ensured based on a travel time of considerably less than three hours. However, the objective is also to make sure that the airports in Austria’s provincial capitals continue to be connected to a Lufthansa flight hub.

• CO₂ emissions within Austria should be cut in half by 2030.

• Austrian Airlines has pledged to increase jet fuel efficiency by 1.5 percent annually and to reduce average CO₂ emissions per 100 passenger kilometers of the entire Austrian Airlines fleet from 9.55 kg to 8.5 kg by 2030.

• CO₂ emissions are to be reduced by 30 percent by the year 2030 from the comparable level of 2005.

The state holding company Austrian Holdings AG (ÖBAG) has the possibility to appoint two people to serve on the Managing Board of Österreichische Luftverkehrs-Privatstiftung (ÖLP), the private foundation which holds a majority stake in Austrian Airlines (via the holding company Österreichische Luftverkehrs-Holding) in order to monitor compliance with all the conditions laid down in the agreement. Moreover, one of these two individuals will also serve on the Supervisory Board of Austrian Airlines AG.

Furthermore, a bi-annual dialogue on Austria as an aviation location including all relevant stakeholders is planned. The objective of this aviation dialogue is the ongoing further development and improvement of underlying conditions as a means of strengthening the flight hub at Vienna Airport.

Austrian Airlines originally reported liquidity requirements amounting to EUR 767 million to the COVID-19 financing agency of the Austrian Federal Government (COVID19-Finanzierungsagentur des Bundes GmbH, COFAG in short). The earlier restart of flight operations and the successful implementation of measures by the airline’s management to secure liquidity serve as the basis for the lower amount of EUR 600 million in required financing. This sum was also confirmed by the auditor PwC.

EUR 300 million will be made available as loans granted via bank financing. Another EUR 300 million provided as state aid and by Lufthansa will strengthen the airline’s equity capital. Not only is the repayment of the bank financing secured in this manner, but the ability to make medium-term investments in sustainable technologies will be ensured. In turn, this will safeguard the continued existence of Austrian Airlines as a systemically relevant partner for the Vienna aviation hub.

The bank loans totaling EUR 300 million are to be made available by an Austrian banking consortium consisting of Erste Group, Raiffeisenbank International, BAWAG and possibly further banks, with the Erste Group also serving as the overall coordinator. A guarantee for 90 percent of the loans will be assumed by the Republic of Austria via COFAG after the required evaluation steps are carried out and all necessary approvals have been granted.

Another significant part of the coronavirus rescue package will come from the airline’s employees. The close to 7,000 employees will make an accumulated crisis contribution of about EUR 300 million by taking salary cuts. The more than 1,000 business partners and suppliers of Austrian Airlines will also make a substantial contribution. Contract volume could be reduced by more than EUR 150 million, partially within the context of newly concluded agreements, in part also by means of renunciation.

“I am relieved and thankful that we have succeeded together in making Austrian Airlines ready for take-off again”, says Austrian Airlines CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech. “After almost three months on the ground, Austrian Airlines will lift off again and slowly ramp up its flight operations in accordance with international travel guidelines. We look forward to soon welcoming passengers on board our flights once again”, he adds.
Austrian Airlines aircraft photo gallery:

Austrian Airlines to resume flight operations on June 15

Austrian Airlines’ aircraft will once again take off on regularly scheduled flights on  June 15, 2020 after a break of close to 90 days.

The first planes will take off for London, Paris and Brussels, among others.

Austrian Airlines will offer flights to the following destinations in the first week of resuming its flight operations: Amsterdam, Athens, Basel, Berlin, Brussels, Bucharest, Dubrovnik, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Geneva, Hamburg, Copenhagen, Larnaca, London, Munich, Paris, Pristina, Sarajevo, Skopje, Sofia, Stockholm, Stuttgart, Tel Aviv, Thessaloniki, Tirana, Varna and Zurich.

In the following week, namely from June 22-28, 2020, the airline will operate flights to additional destinations, i.e. Belgrade, Graz, Innsbruck, Kyiv, Košice, Milan, Nice, Prague, Split and Warsaw.

Accordingly, Austrian Airlines will take off to 37 destinations in the first two weeks of resuming flight operations, subject to new official restrictions, and offer an average of 5 percent capacity compared to the previous year.

In the initial phase, the airline will primarily deploy smaller aircraft such as Embraer 195 and Dash 8. Other destinations will be added in subsequent weeks. The airline is currently developing a flight schedule for July and will provide the relevant information in the near future.

What passengers have to keep in mind when flying in times of the coronavirus
Passengers are required to wear a mouth-nose covering on board Austrian Airlines aircraft as well as at Vienna Airport. All passengers are asked to bring their protective masks themselves, as is required when using other means of public transport. Furthermore, all customers are asked to take account of currently valid entry and quarantine regulations at their respective destinations when planning their journeys (see the IATA Travel Centre website). Restrictions may be imposed during the entire trip due to the tougher hygienic and safety regulations, for example longer waiting times at airport security checks. When selecting or assigning seats, the general directive is that passengers, who do not live in the same household, should disperse themselves throughout the aircraft as far apart from each other as possible. However, in the case of high capacity utilization, no passenger will be refused a seat in order to keep a neighboring seat free.

Intensified protective measures already initiated

At the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, Austrian Airlines already increased the frequency of aircraft cabin cleaning. This will, of course, be continued in the resumption. Intensive cleaning is thus carried out more often alongside standard cleaning procedures after each flight. This particularly applies to the cleaning of all tables, armrests, seat belts and doorknobs. Naturally, passengers will always have water and soap available in the lavatories to wash their hands. Special filters ensure continuous air purification on board during flights. The standard of these devices corresponds to those in clinical operating rooms, making the air on board cleaner than the air a person breathes on earth. Furthermore, the flow pattern of air in the aircraft takes place from top to bottom, meaning that it is improbable that the air is distributed among the seat rows.

Vienna Airport also requires people to wear protective masks and has enhanced its cleaning operations. So-called “sneeze guards” (plexiglass panes) have been installed at the check-in, boarding and information counters. Floor markings help to maintain a safe distance. Moreover, the passengers can make use of hand disinfectant dispensers along their entire path until they reach the aircraft. In this way, the aircraft can be boarded gradually in smaller groups. Furthermore, quick boarding gates at Vienna Airport enable contactless boarding. A scanner reads the boarding pass, thus eliminating the need for personal contact to an employee.

Austrian Airlines aircraft photo gallery:

Video:

Austrian Airlines extends its flight suspension until June 7

Austrian Airlines has made this announcement:

Due to worldwide travel restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the demand for air travel is still low. The Austrian federal government announced that the borders with Germany and possibly other countries would be reopened on June 15. For this reason, Austrian Airlines has decided to extend the suspension of regular flight operations at least for another week, from May 31 to June 7, 2020. A restart during the month of June is under review.

“When the demand is right and the travel restrictions fall, we want to fly again”, says Austrian Airlines Chief Commercial Officer Andreas Otto.

Austrian Airlines aircraft photo gallery:

Austrian Airlines to early retire its Airbus A319s and Boeing 767-300s

Austrian Airlines has made this announcement:

• Demand development: Significantly dampened demand expected in the medium term, pre-crisis level not expected again for several years
• Fleet: new start planned with around 80% of the previous capacity

Flight operations of Austrian Airlines have been temporarily at a standstill since March 18, 2020 as a consequence of the coronavirus crisis.
The employees of the country’s national airline continue to be on short-time work. At the present time, it is not yet possible to precisely forecast when the complete freedom to travel will be restored.
This year Austria’s flag carrier predicts a 25-50 percent drop in demand. A maximum of 75 percent of the pre-coronavirus level is expected by the end of 2021.
Austrian Airlines Executive Board member Andreas Otto comments: “The entire airline industry is pessimistic. We have to assume that we will reach the ‘pre-corona level’ again in 2023 at the earliest.”

Austrian Airlines is now preparing to realign its fleet to reflect the decrease in demand.
Last Friday the Executive Board presented its “Plan for a New Start” to the Supervisory Board. The plan was outlined to the airline’s 7,000 employees today within the context of a digital information event.

In order to adjust capacity to the changed demand from coronavirus, Austrian Airlines has decided to make some fleet changes.
In addition to the phase-out of the original 18 Dash turboprops, which was decided and started in 2019, all seven A319 jets and three of the six Boeing 767-300s are to be retired by 2022.
The Boeing 767 aircraft are OE-LAT, OE-LAW and OE-LAX, which are among the oldest aircraft in the fleet with an average age of 28 years. The other three Boeing 767s are between 19 and 21 years old. The entire fleet currently has an average age of 15.4 years. By phasing out older aircraft, the age will decrease to 14.6.

The entire Austrian Airlines fleet currently numbers around 80 aircraft. The phase-out of the turbo-prop fleet and the phase-in of A320s would have reduced the fleet to 70.
The restart plan now envisages a fleet of around 60 aircraft in 2022, nine of which will be long-haul aircraft. The adaptation of the fleet is to take place in stages. Since it is mainly smaller aircraft that are being decommissioned, this corresponds to a capacity reduction of around 20%.

Despite the reduction of the fleet, as many jobs as possible are to be maintained. Appropriate talks are already underway with the works councils. “We got into this crisis through no fault of our own. Now it is our responsibility to make Austrian Airlines fit for the future after Corona. We want to retain our long-haul hub, even if we have no other choice for the time being but to adapt to the somewhat smaller market. Being fit for the future also means that we must be in a position to finance our aircraft, charges, wages and investments, and of course also to repay any charges and loans from Corona grounding,” emphasizes Austrian Airlines CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech.

All photos by Austrian Airlines.
Austrian Airlines aircraft photo gallery:

Austrian Airlines extends short-time work

Austrian Airlines has made this announcement:

Short-time work will be continued for a further month from April 20, 2020
All 7,000 employees will remain on short-time work until May 19, 2020

Due to the global developments in connection with the Coronavirus and the continuing restrictions on travel, Austrian Airlines is extending the short-time working model for its 7,000 employees by a further month until May 19, 2020.

The Austrian Airlines employees have been on short-time working since March 20, 2020, initially for one month. This had become necessary after the sharp decline in demand due to the Coronavirus, which forced Austrian to suspend its flight operations temporarily on March 18, 2020.

Photos: Vienna Airport.

The red-white-red airline is already working on its new start after the crisis. An exact date is still not foreseeable, however. For this reason, the company has agreed, in coordination with the works councils, to extend short-time work for another month.

The cornerstones of the “Corona” short-time working model remain unchanged and continue to provide for a reduction of working time down to a minimum of 10 percent while ensuring payment of up to 90 percent of employee salaries. The difference will be covered by AMS funding or by Austrian Airlines. Depending on the further development of the situation, short-time work can be extended by further months. The maximum possible duration of “Corona” short-time work is six months.

CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech: “The model of short-time work helps us to fly through this crisis as well as possible. However, our goal remains unchanged: As soon as it is possible, we want to start flying again. Even if it will still be a long way to a new normality, we are already preparing for it with full force”.

Austrian Airlines aircraft photo gallery:

Austrian extends temporary cessation of flight operations until May 17

Austrian Airlines has made this announcement:

About 7,000 stranded passengers have been brought home safely
Airlift to Asia: more than 400 tons of protective clothing transported up until now
Austrian Airlines stands ready for a slow relaunch depending on travel regulations

Unfortunately, worldwide entry bans imposed as a consequence of the coronavirus continue to be in force or have even been extended in some cases. For this reason, Austrian Airlines has to prolong the cessation of its regular scheduled flight operations once again, this time for an additional two weeks, namely from May 3, 2020 to May 17, 2020.

The precise time when regular flight operations will be resumed depends on the easing of travel restrictions and the related increase in demand. “In any case, we continue to stand ready to initiate a slow restart”, says Austrian Airlines CCO Andreas Otto.

Special flights will continue to be operated. For example, two long-haul planes from China will land this afternoon in Vienna with urgently needed medical protective clothing. A total of over 400 tons of relief supplies have been flown in from China and Malaysia up until now. Meanwhile, long-haul planes take off from Vienna to Asia every day. “The airlift is well established,” Andreas Otto adds. Moreover, about 30 repatriation flights have been carried out on behalf of the Austrian Federal Government since March 13, 2020, bringing home approx. 7,000 stranded passengers safely.

Austrian Airlines aircraft photo gallery:

Austrian Airlines prepares operations for time after the coronavirus crisis, does not expect things to return to normal for three years

Austrian Airlines has made this announcement:

Demand of 25-50% expected for summer 2020
Conversations on further support package underway
Controlled start-up and realignment are being prepared

Due to local and global travel restrictions, Austrian Airlines last week extended the suspension of regular flight operations until May 3, 2020. The approximately 7,000 employees are currently on short-time work. The Austrian Federal Government announced that complete freedom to travel cannot be expected to come back soon.

Austrian Airlines currently assumes that it will have 25-50% of the demand in summer 2020 compared to 2019. Austrian also anticipates a significant reduction in demand for 2021 and the “pre-corona level” will probably not be reached until 2023 at the earliest. Accordingly, the red-white-red airline is preparing for a reorientation and adaptation of the company to the changed travel behavior.

Conversations are already ongoing with the Austrian government, the owner Lufthansa and the social partners in order to prepare the new start after the crisis.

Austrian Airlines CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech commented: “The world we will be flying into will be a different one. People will travel again, but the economy, tourism and passenger needs will have changed after the coronavirus crisis. We will align our company to master this challenge.”

This realignment includes a reduction in the size of the fleet and consistent restructuring. The extent to which this will take place has not yet been finally defined and also depends on the further development of the crisis. “Our goal remains to maintain as many flight connections and as many jobs as possible”, says the Austrian CEO.

Austrian Airlines intends to continue operating the Vienna hub with its short, medium and long-haul routes: “We will do whatever is necessary to achieve this goal. That’s why the motto we set at the beginning of the crisis remains valid: The current shutdown is not a ‘Good Bye’ but a ‘See you later’”, adds CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech.

Austrian Airlines aircraft photo gallery:

Behind the Scenes: Austrian Airlines repatriation flight

From the Austrian Airlines blog:

What does a typical repatriation flight look like? Which steps are taken and what are the challenges? Our pilot Reinhard reveals more here.

THE REPATRIATION FLIGHTS IN COOPERATION WITH THE AUSTRIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY

COVID-19: One single virus manages to bring the whole world to a standstill within a very short time – and with it, the aviation industry. On March 18, 2020, the regular flight schedule of Austrian Airlines was suspended for the time being. But at this time, many Austrians were still abroad. Without further ado, the Austrian Foreign Ministry launched the initiative of “repatriation flights” to bring stranded Austrians back home as quickly as possible. Austrian Airlines is in constant contact with the Austrian Foreign Ministry to clarify and implement the organisation of repatriation flights. From Lima to Sydney, from Mexico to Indonesia – within a very short time, several thousands of Austrians have already been brought back home. Our personal heroes: The crew and team involved in the repatriation flights. An interview with pilot Dr. Reinhard Lernbeiss now provides us with more information about the planning, procedures and challenges.

First things first: How are you?

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Dr. Reinhard Lernbeiss:

Me and my family are doing well. Nevertheless, the virus is present and is getting closer. It is a queasy feeling when you hear from acquaintances that they have been infected.

At the moment we are also a little worried about my father-in-law. He is currently in Mumbai and is supposed to get evacuated via Prague. So I do not just see the situation as someone who acts, but also as someone who hopes and trusts.

How did you find out about the Austrian repatriation flights and how can you participate as an Austrian pilot?

Dr. Reinhard Lernbeiss:

The principle of voluntariness applies here first. The return flights do not just expose you to an increased risk of infection, they also require a high level of commitment. There is no routine. At any border of the airspace it can now happen that the entry permit is no longer valid. This can lead to negotiations and necessary coordination, which requires the highest level of diplomatic assistance. On top of this, of course, the organisation with local authorities and the respective health requirements have to be taken into account. Thus, everything takes much longer and decisions are currently far more complex than before. Each pilot has to decide individually, in view of his personal environment and his own family, whether he or she wants to volunteer for our repatriation operations.

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Another important aspect is our licensing framework. Even though the EASA (=European Union Aviation Safety Agency) and national authorities advocate very good possibilities for mitigation (temporary exceptions and solutions to bridge and cope with the usual valid and restrictive limits and regulations for pilots and crews), pilots in particular have to remain “current”. This means that they have to take off and land at least one aircraft on a regular basis in order to maintain their entitlement. This represents a considerable challenge for an airline, because this is precisely what is required for the airline’s ability to act and is immensely important for the so-called “ramp-up”, i.e. the ramping up of operations at the end of the crisis. For this reason, the “Recency”, i.e. the validity of the authorization, is also selected from the group of volunteers. Another important aspect is the validity of the entry visa. In many countries there are considerable restrictions and limitations, especially for people who have already had contact with COVID-19 patients.

Which repatriation flights have you already conducted? Is the route network different to the regular one?

Dr. Reinhard Lernbeiss:

At the moment, most of us have completed about two or three of these flights. The program is currently becoming a little denser, as cargo flights are now being added. Just last week, for example, medical supplies were flown in from China, which were necessary for hospitals in Tyrol and South Tyrol. Most of the destinations are not part of the regular Austrian route network. Currently, for example, I am waiting for the departure from Bali to Vienna with a stopover in Kuala Lumpur. But there have also been flights to Lima, Mexico City or Sydney – in all cases, the cabin was completely occupied.

During the last two weeks, we flew home more than 3,500 people from all over the world. Additional repatriation flights will follow this week from Lima, Denpasar & Kuala Lumpur on behalf of @mfa_austria. Huge thanks to our great employees who made this possible!

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How does it feel to be told that you can operate a repatriation flight?

Dr. Reinhard Lernbeiss:

A sober attitude is essential. Based on facts. You have to put emotions aside and keep cool. Anyhow, I would say that Austrians can be really proud of their country. It is implemented much better than in many other countries. However, we also have to be aware of this after the crisis. In any case, the people on our flights are incredibly grateful and proud to be Austrians.

Were you even able to get prepared for the flights? If so, did you have any special briefings?

Dr. Reinhard Lernbeiss:

Most of the flights are certainly no typical routine flights. We have a few important guidelines, but of course they cannot cover all eventualities. For example, at this very moment, I received a call that we have to remove the aircraft at the airport in Bali. The airport manager is not even allowed to do this with the help of our technicians by himself. I wasn’t supposed to be at the airport within the next five hours, but now I have to leave earlier. Those are things you cannot prepare – and this is quite harmless.

Great welcoming committee in red for our repatriation flight coming from Denpasar/Kuala Lumpur! Btw, our crew will take the OE-LPD, whose wing they are standing under, on a record flight shortly. Stay tuned!

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How do the repatriation flights differ from the “normal” flights?

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Dr. Reinhard Lernbeiss:

As many might suspect, we do not have doctors on board. From an epidemiological point of view, it would be unwise. But there are representatives of the Foreign Ministry, who are currently doing an incredible job with the local authorities. This can be particularly challenging, as the number of passengers and, above all, the amount of freight fluctuates considerably. One thing is immensely important for us even in times of crisis: the correct loading of the aircraft. This is essential for reasons of flight safety. An experienced technician checks the aircraft, takes care of the refuelling and is absolutely indispensable at the airports, where we do not have any contractual partners in the usual way.

However, the current situation is also very difficult for the cabin crew. They are used to not just accompany passengers with a lot of charm and their famous smile, but also to inspire them. In times of COVID-19, however, the new etiquette is called “distance” and the smile behind the mask is not visible. For our flight attendants, who live the “Charming Way to Fly” even off duty, this is a great challenge. But they still master it with a lot of charm and tact.

How does the boarding of the passengers proceed?

Dr. Reinhard Lernbeiss:

Thanks to the support of the Austrian Foreign Ministry, which is doing incredible work in advance of each and every flight, things are progressing a little slower than usual, but nevertheless always in a controlled and orderly manner. There are always fever measurements and medical check-ups. But with every flight we keep learning and can improve and optimise our procedures.

How does a typical repatriation flight look like?

Dr. Reinhard Lernbeiss:

Usually you get informed at short notice before the actual flight. No more than one or two days before. The flight briefing then takes place in our headquarters building, which is currently occupied by hardly anyone except the crew. A cabin crew team leader is available for all kinds of questions, but most of the information is sent electronically in advance. Due to the short-term nature and flexibility, it can happen that one or another approval has to be submitted later.

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It is also possible that we have to go through a questionnaire with the medical service via satellite phone during the flight, which local authorities have issued only a few minutes before and which are suddenly necessary for the respective entry. The briefing before the flight is intensive and we try to cover numerous eventualities as a team. The outbound flight is completely empty, except for the crew and team. On site, our catering is handed out on the ground even before boarding, in order to comply with the hygiene regulations. Our flight attendants have to keep their distance for the entire flight and wear protective masks.

What happens after the repatriation flights? Any specific measures?

Dr. Reinhard Lernbeiss:

In terms of crew and passengers, our options here are somewhat limited. Therefore, no special measures can be taken, but tracking does exist. So if a passenger or crew member is tested positive for COVID-19 or shows symptoms, everyone will be informed and asked to follow certain procedures, depending on the type of contact. Aircraft cleaning, which was also carried out thoroughly before the crisis, is now being conducted even more intensively and manually. The entire aircraft gets disinfected and checked several times.

Thank you, Reinhard, for taking the time to answer our questions. At the same time we would like to thank you, all involved parties and our crew for your tireless efforts and the seamless implementation. A further thank you to the Austrian Foreign Ministry, for the trust and excellent cooperation.