Tag Archives: Lufthansa

Lufthansa will deploy four Airbus A350-900s to Frankfurt hub this winter

Lufthansa has made this announcement:

For the duration of the winter timetable (until the end of March 2021) Lufthansa will be deploying four of the currently parked Airbus A350-900s to its hub in Frankfurt. The Airbus A350-900 is one of the most modern and environmentally friendly long-haul aircraft in the world.

Over the next few months the A350-900 will be serving Chicago and Los Angeles from Frankfurt, by temporarily replacing the Boeing 747-8 for this period of time. From December onwards, the ultra-modern A350-900 will also be flying from Frankfurt on the route to Tokyo/Haneda instead of the Airbus A340-300. All flights will be operated by Munich-based cabin and cockpit crews.

The A350-900 not only offers Lufthansa customers a top product on board, it is also extremely environmentally friendly, efficient and quiet. Compared to a Boeing 747-8, the Airbus A350-900 consumes around 12 percent less fuel and emits less CO2. At the same time by operating the A350-900 in Frankfurt, the fleet will be optimally used in an efficient and sustainable way under the current circumstances.

Lufthansa’s A350-900 fleet currently encompasses 16 Munich- based aircraft. Due to the sharp reduction in the number of flights offered as a result of the corona pandemic, only seven A350-900s will initially be operated at Munich in the winter timetable of 20/21 on routes to North America and Asia.

Lufthansa aircraft photo gallery:

 

Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines test in-flight shopping platform SKYdeals

Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines have made this announcement:

Due to the current coronavirus pandemic, offers on board had to be restricted. This also applies to onboard sales. To give customers the opportunity to shop above the clouds again, Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines are now testing a new in-flight shopping experience for their passengers – via Internet on board (FlyNet). Guests will have free access to the SKYdeals shopping platform via the FlyNet portal with their mobile device during their flight within Germany and Europe. The platform is the first online marketplace on board for so-called “shoppertainment”. At the start of the test phase, passengers will receive a free FlyNet Mail&Surf voucher after the sale is completed.

With just one click on the online marketplace, information such as destination and flight route is transmitted to SKYdeals. The SKYdeals Inflight Shopping platform offers a selection of products, each of which is related to the destination or the flight route. The following sales formats are part of the programme:

  • FLY OVER: exclusive discounts on local products such as Swiss chocolate and pocket knives on flights over Switzerland or fan articles of German football clubs over Germany
  • QUICK SALES / PRIVATE SALES: exclusive offers in fashion, beauty and accessories

After convenient online ordering and payment on board via the SKYdeals platform, the customer can have the order delivered by post to his desired address.

Lufthansa to make further fleet and personnel cuts

Lufthansa has made this announcement:

The outlook for international air traffic has significantly worsened in recent weeks. With the summer travel season coming to an end, passenger and booking figures are declining again, after slight signs of recovery were still evident in July and August. In view of these developments, the Executive Board of Deutsche Lufthansa AG approved the third package within the Group-wide “ReNew” restructuring program today and informed the Supervisory Board accordingly.

In detail, the Executive Board adopted the following resolutions:

  • The capacity outlook for the passenger airlines will be significantly revised; the previous assumption that an average production level of 50 percent of the previous year’s value would be reached in the fourth quarter of the year no longer seems realistic. If the current trend continues, the available seat kilometres will probably only be in a range between 20 and 30 percent, compared to the previous year.
  • The medium term fleet planning will be adjusted and currently foresees  a permanent, Group-wide capacity reduction of 150 aircraft by the middle of this decade (starting point is the Group fleet including wet-leased aircraft).
  • In addition to the fleet changes already communicated, the following decisions have been made: After six Airbus A380s were finally taken out of service in the spring, the remaining eight A380s and ten A340-600s, which were previously intended for flight service, will be transferred to long-term storage and removed from planning. These aircraft will only be reactivated in the event of an unexpectedly rapid market recovery. In addition, the remaining seven Airbus A340-600s will be permanently decommissioned.
  • Copyright Photo Above: Marcelo F. De Biasi.
  • The fleet decisions mentioned above will result in a further impairment of up to EUR 1.1 billion. The amount is expected to be accounted for in the third quarter of the current year.
  • The previously announced personnel surplus amounting to 22,000 full-time positions will increase as a result of the decisions taken in regards to the third package within the restructuring program. The change in permanent staffing levels within flight operations will be further adjusted in regards to market development. The compensation and reduction of personnel surplus will be discussed with the responsible employee representatives.
  • Irrespective of the negotiations on reconciliations of interests and social plans for redundancies within the Lufthansa Group, the Executive Board’s objective remains agreeing on crisis packages with the collective bargaining partners that limit the number of necessary redundancies.
  • Despite the worsened outlook, the revised financial planning intends to further reduce cash outflows through strict cost management. The outflow of liquidity is to be reduced from currently around EUR 500 million per month to an average of EUR 400 million per month in winter 2020/21. The previously communicated Group target of returning to positive operating cash flows during 2021 is being reinforced.
  • A streamlined management structure with a 20 percent reduction of management positions is to be implemented in the first quarter of 2021. To simplify and clearly define responsibilities, the functional process organization (matrix) will be focused on core functions of Lufthansa Group Airlines. For all other areas, a new management model with clearly assigned responsibilities (decentralized or centralized, depending on the process) will be introduced.
  • The administrative office space will be reviewed worldwide and reduced by 30 percent in Germany.

In the Executive Board’s assessment, the continuing high level of uncertainty in global air traffic makes short-term adjustments to the current market situation unavoidable for the foreseeable future.  The Board considers the expansion of corona tests prior to departure an essential prerequisite for the resumption of global mobility. Consistent testing is possible, increases safety for travelers and is a better alternative than changing inconsistent entry and quarantine regulations.

Lufthansa aircraft photo gallery:

Lufthansa is consistently pursuing its tourism strategy: 15 new summer destinations from Frankfurt in 2021

Photo: Historic town of Lindos on Rhodes, Greece (Lufthansa).

Lufthansa has made this announcement:

Lufthansa is consistently expanding its offering of flights to tourist and leisure destinations from Frankfurt.  During next year’s summer Season in 202115 new sunny destinations, which are highly attractive for holidaymakers, are now available for booking. The focus is on Greece (Corfu, Chania/Crete, Mykonos, Kos, Kavala/Thrace and Preveza/Peloponnese). Other attractive destinations in the program are in Spain (Jerez de la Frontera, Canary Islands and Tenerife will be continued from winter), Egypt (Hurghada), Cyprus (Paphos), Croatia (Rijeka), Italy (Lamezia Terme), Tunisia (Djerba) and Bulgaria (Varna).

The departure and arrival times of the new destinations are ideal for holidaymakers: Departures from Frankfurt were scheduled for the early morning hours and return flights to the Frankfurt Main metropolis in the evening.

By deploying up to five additional aircraft, the company will in future offer around 70 weekly connections to 29 purely tourist destinations, 15 more than in the same period last year. Lufthansa’s goal is to actively shape the future of tourism. This was a strategic focus even before the coronavirus pandemic. Since the beginning of July 2019, Lufthansa has been offering numerous additional tourist destinations.

The flights are bookable from today, September 16. Booking early has its advantages. This is because summer flights 2021, which are purchased until December 31, 2020, can then be rebooked as often as desired free of charge. Additional costs can arise if, for example, the original booking class is no longer available when rebooking to a different date or destination.

The new destinations summer 2021 in detail:

Corfu (CFU) Two weekly flights Start: April 4th
Chania (CHQ) Three weekly flights Start: April 1st
Djerba (DJE) One weekly flight Start: April 3rd
Hurghada (HRG) One weekly flight Start: April 3rd
Mykonos (JMK) Two weekly flights Start: May 4th
Kos (KGS) Three weekly flights Start: April 2nd
Kavala (KVA) Two weekly flights Start: May 4th
Gran Canaria (LPA) Two weekly flights Continuation Winter
Paphos (PFO) Two weekly flights Start: March 29th
Preveza (PVK) Two weekly flights Start: May 2nd
Rijeka (RJK) One weekly flight Start: May 8th
Lamezia Terme (SUF) Two weekly flights Start: April 3rd
Tenerife (TFS) Two weekly flights Continuation Winter
Varna (VAR) Two weekly flights Start: May 1st
Jerez de la Frontera (XRY) Two weekly flights Start: March 28th

Bloomberg: Lufthansa to decide on the Airbus A380 and Boeing 747-400 fleets next week

According to Bloomberg, Lufthansa will consider the retirement of the remaining Airbus A380s, most of the Airbus A340s, and all of its Boeing 747-400s next week at a board meeting.

The Boeing 747-8 Intercontinentals and some Airbus A340-600s will be retained.

Lufthansa aircraft photo gallery:

Lufthansa Trachtencrew takes off again this year

Lufthansa Group made this announcement:

Even if the Munich Oktoberfest cannot take place as usual this year, Lufthansa is holding on to the beautiful tradition of the Trachtencrew flights. As a tribute to the world-famous folk festival, eleven flight attendants will take off for New York/Newark on September 22 with the Airbus A350. At the same time, passengers on board of Lufthansa CityLine can experience the traditional costume crews on numerous European flights. From September 21 to 25 the flights will take passengers from Munich to Copenhagen, Helsinki, Manchester, Berlin and Vienna and  to the holiday destinations Santorini and Sylt.

The tradition of Trachtencrew flights is as long as it is successful at Lufthansa. The first flights in traditional costume took place as early as 1957, and even back then they were already  fascinating Lufthansa passengers all over the world. In 2006 the idea was taken up again and the maiden flight went – as well as this year – to New York. Since then, the Lufthansa Trachtencrew has been heading to 25 destinations from China to Japan, India and the USA, as well as  destinations all over Europe.

The Dirndl of the Lufthansa long-haul crews was createdby the Munich costume designer Angermaier: The flight attendants’ Wiesn-Dirndl is dark blue with a silver-grey apron, the men wear short leather pants with a dark blue vest in the fabric of the Dirndl.

It has also been a long-standing tradition for Lufthansa’s passenger service staff in Terminal 2 to welcome passengers in Dirndl and traditional costume suits during the Wiesn season.

Bavarian delights on board and in the Lufthansa lounges

Munich’s Lufthansa Lounges also continue the tradition of previous years. In the lounges, passengers can choose between typical Bavarian dishes such as Leberkäs’, cabbage or potato salad. There are also roasted almonds, pretzel pearls and Oktoberfest beer.

On board of the Business Class, trout and Bavarian cream are served  during the month of September, a Weissbier can be ordered on request as well.

 

Coronavirus testing at Frankfurt Airport

Lufthansa Group has made this announcement:

With the school start in Baden-Wuerttemberg the summer travel season ends in whole Germany. At the end of the summer, CENTOGENE and Lufthansa are taking a positive interim balance of the test centers at German airports. Since the end of June, the partners have been jointly enabling passengers departing from or arriving at Frankfurt Airport (FRA), as well as those from the region, to have access to fast, reliable tests for the SARS CoV-2 virus. This first “walk-in” coronavirus test center in Germany serves as a blueprint for a successful test concept and helps passengers entering Germany from high-risk countries.

In the summer of 2020, more than 150,000 passengers were tested at Frankfurt Airport using CENTOGENE’s highly sensitive SARS-CoV-2 PCR test. On average, about one percent of the samples were positive during the last six weeks. Over 97 percent of the COVID-19 test results were digitally transmitted to passengers in August 2020 in less than 24 hours. Passengers who had registered for the test in advance only had to wait approx. 20 minutes before being tested. Most of them came from Spain, followed by the USA, Turkey and Croatia. In addition, almost 50,000 passengers were tested before departure, for example to travel to China or Dubai, where a negative test result is mandatory for entry. The general population from the region also used the test center. Since mid-August, another test center has also been in operation at Hamburg Airport.

Most recently, the testing capacity at the test center at Frankfurt has been expanded and the sampling area has been enlarged to provide a convenient option for travelers. The test center in Frankfurt now has a capacity of around 10,000 tests per day, which is more than sufficient even at times of high demand. On average, around 4,500 tests per day were carried out in the summer months of July and August. The CENTOGENE service complements the existing public laboratory capacities of the health care system and relieves them.

Lufthansa Group passengers can now also use the fast lane at the CENTOGENE test center at Frankfurt Airport and thus keep waiting times to a minimum. Special fast lanes are also available for Lufthansa Group status customers, business and first class travellers.

“It is correct that the testing strategy for travellers from high-risk countries will be maintained in September. Instead of abolishing the tests from October and dismantling the successfully established testing infrastructure at airports, the existing testing capacities should be further expanded and used even more extensively. The data obtained from the tests can make a significant contribution to reacting to the current infection situation with targeted and appropriate measures. The cooperation between Lufthansa and CENTOGENE, which is continuously expanding its capacities, serves as a benchmark for a successful test model here,” says Christina Foerster, Lufthansa Group Customer, IT & Corporate Responsibility Board Member.

Dr. Volkmar Weckesser, CIO CENTOGENE, emphasizes: “We firmly believe that broad-based testing is the key to preventing a further outbreak and supporting a new normal – especially where mobility is an essential contribution to the efficiency of our economy. This is why we have introduced efficient, digital workflows for COVID-19 testing at two of Germany’s largest airports. We are absolutely convinced that this decision is correct and will therefore continue to significantly increase our testing capacities. In this way, we can make an important contribution to the testing infrastructure – also for medical personnel or the population in the region. Above all, thanks to the latest technology and innovation, we are also working intensively on new, faster test methods.

Passengers can perform the test in a sample collection center in the immediate vicinity of the main terminal of Frankfurt Airport. All results are made available to passengers via a secure digital platform and linked to the flight ticket to ensure automated confirmation for travelers flying to countries with respective entry restrictions. In addition, passengers can choose an identity confirmation service that certifies authorities that the test results match the passengers’ identity.

Lufthansa and Vereinigung Cockpit agree on package of short-term crisis measures through the end of the year

Lufthansa made this announcement:

Parking Fleet
  • Pilots’ contributions through December: reduced top-up payments for short-time working compensation benefits, compensation adjustments, and reductions in pension benefits
  • In return, redundancies due to business operations (betriebsbedingte Kündigungen) in the second quarter 2021 at the earliest
  • Reconciliations of interests and social plans are still being negotiated
  • Agreement on long-term contributions by pilots urgently needed to limit the number of necessary redundancies

Lufthansa has concluded a short-term agreement with the pilots’ union Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) for initial measures to manage the coronavirus crisis. The measures apply to the pilots of Lufthansa, Lufthansa Cargo, Lufthansa Aviation Training and some of the Germanwings pilots.

Cost reductions through the end of 2020 

The agreement includes cost reduction measures that will apply until the end of the year. Among other things, top-up payments for short-time working compensation benefits and employer contributions to the pension scheme will be reduced from September onwards. Collective wage increases negotiated for 2020 will be postponed until January 2021.

Redundancies due to business operations in the second quarter of 2021 at the earliest

Lufthansa will refrain from implementing redundancies due to business operations for the pilots of Lufthansa, Lufthansa Cargo, Lufthansa Aviation Training and certain of the Germanwings pilots until March 31, 2021. However, the significant overcapacity of pilots will last considerably beyond March 2021. The number of redundancies for operational reasons can therefore only be limited by concluding a long-term crisis agreement. In a long-term crisis package, the costs of the personnel surplus could, for example, be compensated for by a corresponding reduction in working hours and salary for the period of the crisis.

At the same time, Lufthansa has announced that for all German flight operations, it will refrain from hiring new pilots from outside the Group as long as there is an overcapacity of cockpit staff. This will also apply to the cockpit staffing of tourist-oriented flight operations – which will be open to pilots from Sun Express Deutschland and the German base of Brussels Airlines who flew tourist routes during the past few years.

Negotiations on the reconciliation of interests and on social plans will be continued with the respective cockpit staff representatives. This process is furthest along at Germanwings, where flight operations are not set to continue in light of the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

The package of measures was approved by the Executive Board of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, the Air Transport Employers’ Association (Arbeitgeberverband Luftverkehr) and the VC committees and is effective immediately.

Reuters: Lufthansa reaches a deal with its flight attendants union

From Reuters:

“Cabin crew at Lufthansa have voted overwhelmingly in favor of a deal to stop pay rises and cut hours, the UFO trade union said on Saturday as the German airline battles to rein in losses due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Lufthansa reached the deal in June with UFO, which represents 22,000 cabin crew, to reap more than 500 million euros ($592.05 million) in savings from shorter hours and an equivalent cut in pay as well as a temporary reduction in pension contributions.”

Read the full article.

Lufthansa aircraft photo gallery:

Consequences of Coronavirus pandemic have a considerable impact on Lufthansa result

Lufthansa Group has made this announcement:

  • Adjusted EBIT declines to minus 1.7 billion euros in the second quarter despite significant cost reductions
  • Comprehensive “ReNew” restructuring programme to ensure global competitiveness after the crisis
  • Lufthansa Cargo with strong second quarter
  • Number of employees already reduced by 8,300 – redundancies no longer ruled out in Germany as well
  • Normalization of demand to pre-crisis level expected for 2024 at the earliest

The collapse in demand for air travel due to the Coronavirus pandemic led to an 80 percent drop in revenue for the Lufthansa Group in the second quarter to 1.9 billion euros (previous year: 9.6 billion euros). Most of the revenue (1.5 billion euros) was generated by Lufthansa Cargo and Lufthansa Technik.

The Lufthansa Group Adjusted EBIT in the quarter under review amounted to minus 1.7 billion euros (previous year: 754 million euros), despite extensive cost reductions. Operating expenses were reduced by 59 percent, primarily through the introduction of short-time working for large parts of the workforce and the cancellation of non-essential expenditures. However, these measures were only partially able to compensate for the decline in sales. The consolidated net income of Lufthansa Group for the months April to June amounted to minus 1.5 billion euros (previous year: 226 million euros).

The logistics division benefited from stable demand. The loss of cargo capacity in passenger aircraft (“bellies”) led to a significant increase in yields. Lufthansa Cargo’s Adjusted EBIT thus rose to 299 million euros (previous year: minus 9 million euros).

First half of 2020 
In the entire first half of 2020, Lufthansa Group revenue fell by 52 percent to 8.3 billion euros (previous year: 17.4 billion euros). Adjusted EBIT amounted to minus 2.9 billion euros (previous year: 418 million euros) and EBIT to minus 3.5 billion euros (previous year: 417 million euros). The difference between the two figures is mainly due to depreciation on aircraft and aircraft usage rights amounting to 300 million euros, goodwill impairments totaling 157 million euros and the impairment of joint venture holdings in the MRO segment totaling 62 million euros.

In addition, the negative market value development of fuel cost hedging contracts had a negative impact of 782 million euros on the financial result in the first six months of the year. Compared with the first quarter, this effect decreased by 205 million euros. The Lufthansa Group net result for the first half of the year thus amounted to minus 3.6 billion euros (previous year: minus 116 million euros).

Traffic development in the second quarter of 2020
In the second quarter of 2020, the Lufthansa Group airlines carried 1.7 million passengers, 96 percent fewer than in the previous year. Capacity fell by 95 percent. The seat load factor was 56 percent, 27 percentage points below the previous year’s figure. Freight capacity offered fell by 54 percent due to a lack of capacity on passenger aircraft. The decline in freight kilometers sold was 47 percent. This reflects an increase in cargo load factor by 10 percentage points, to 71 percent.

Traffic development in the first half of 2020
In the first six months, the Lufthansa Group airlines carried a total of 23.5 million passengers, two thirds fewer than in the same period last year (minus 66 percent). Capacity decreased by 61 percent. The seat load factor fell by 9 percentage points to 72 percent in the period. Freight capacity offered fell by 36 percent and cargo kilometres sold by 32 percent. This resulted in an increase in cargo load factor by 4 percentage points to 66 percent.

Cash flow and liquidity development
Capital expenditure fell to 897 million euros (previous year: 1,904 million euros) in the first half of the year, mainly due to postponing planned aircraft deliveries, with only 127 million euros of capital expenditure in the second quarter. The drastic reduction in capital expenditure, the Group-wide focus on securing liquidity and strict working capital management limited the cash outflow despite the significant drop in earnings. The adjusted free cash flow for the first half of the year thus amounted to minus 510 million euros (previous year: 269 million euros). Net debt increased by 10 percent compared with the end of 2019, to 7.3 billion euros.

Centrally available liquidity amounted to 2.8 billion euros on June 30, a decrease of 1.4 billion euros compared with the end of the first quarter (31 March 2020: 4.2 billion euros).

The funds agreed with the Economic Stabilization Fund of the Federal Republic of Germany (WSF) to stabilize Lufthansa Group are not yet included in the liquidity figures as of 30 June 2020. Including these funds amounting to 9 billion euros, the Group had a total of 11.8 billion euros in liquidity available as of 30 June 2020.

Since the beginning of July, the Group has received 2.3 billion euros from the stabilization package. As a result of the capital increase, with which the WSF has acquired a 20 percent stake in the company’s share capital, the Lufthansa Group received cash of around 300 million euros. The release of the first instalment of the KfW (Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau) loan contributed one billion euros, and the establishment of the WSF’s Silent Participation II provided a further one billion euros.

Cash outflows since the balance sheet date related primarily to the payment of refund claims for cancelled flights. In July, the Group paid out just under one billion euros. In total, the Group has so far reimbursed around two billion euros to customers in the current year 2020.

Lufthansa Group decides on “ReNew” restructuring program
The Group currently expects demand for air travel to return to pre-crisis levels in 2024 at the earliest. Lufthansa Group has therefore decided on a comprehensive restructuring programme entitled “ReNew”, which also includes the restructuring program already underway at the airlines and service companies.

The aim remains to maintain the global competitiveness and future viability of the Lufthansa Group. The program includes the reduction of 22,000 full-time jobs in the Lufthansa Group. The Group’s fleet is to be permanently reduced by at least 100 aircraft. Nevertheless, the capacity offered in 2024 is to correspond to that of 2019. To this end, productivity is supposed to be increased by 15 percent by 2023, among other things by reducing the number of the flight operations (AOCs) to a maximum of ten in future. The size of the Executive and Management Boards of the Group companies will be reduced and the number of executives in the Group is supposed to be lowered by 20 percent. In the administration of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, 1,000 jobs will be cut. The sum of these measures should make it possible to refinance the funds of the stabilization package as quickly as possible. The financial planning of Lufthansa Group stipulates that positive cash flows will be generated again in the course of 2021. Lufthansa Group currently (as of 30 June 2020) has 129,400 employees, about 8,300 fewer than at the same time last year. The Group’s objective was to avoid redundancies as far as possible. Against the background of the market developments in global air traffic and based on the course of the negotiations on necessary agreements with the collective bargaining partners, this goal is no longer realistically within reach for Germany either.

Carsten Spohr, Chairman of the Executive Board and CEO of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, said: “We are experiencing a caesura in global air traffic. We do not expect demand to return to pre-crisis levels before 2024. Especially for long-haul routes there will be no quick recovery.

We were able to counteract the effects of the coronavirus pandemic in the first half of the year with strict cost management as well as with the revenues from Lufthansa Technik and Lufthansa Cargo. And we are benefitting from the first signs of recovery on tourist routes, especially with our leisure travel offers of the Eurowings and Edelweiss brands. Nevertheless, we will not be spared a far-reaching restructuring of our business.

We are convinced that the entire aviation industry must adapt to a new normal. The pandemic offers our industry a unique opportunity to recalibrate: to question the status quo and, instead of striving for “growth at any price”, to create value in a sustainable and responsible way.”

Outlook
Since the beginning of July, the Group has further expanded its flight program. This primarily concerns short-haul leisure travel. Lufthansa Group had already made the expansion of its market position in this segment a focal point of its strategy before the Corona crisis. The airlines Eurowings and Edelweiss play an important role in this context.

In July, the Group gradually increased its offering to around 20 percent of the previous year’s level, with load factors of over 70 percent in European short-haul traffic.

In the third quarter, capacity offered is planned to increase to an average of around 40 percent of the prior year capacity on short- and medium-haul routes and to around 20 percent on long-haul routes. In the fourth quarter, capacity is planned to further increase to an average of around 55 percent (short- and medium-haul) and around 50 percent (long-haul). With this, the Group plans to return to 95 percent of the short- and medium-haul and 70 percent of the long-haul destinations by the end of the year. Thanks to a high degree of flexibility in supply and capacity planning, this figure can also vary at short notice.

Despite the capacity expansion, the Lufthansa Group also expects a clearly negative Adjusted EBIT in the second half of 2020 and thus a further significant decline in Adjusted EBIT for the full year. This reflects the expectation that important long-haul routes will continue to be served only to a very limited extent due to ongoing travel restrictions.