Austrian Airlines has predicted that by the end of 2021 demand will have only reached a maximum of 75 per cent of what it was pre-COVID19. Andreas Otto, Executive Board member and CCO, Austrian Airlines said, “The entire airline industry is pessimistic. We have to assume that we will reach the ‘pre-corona level’ again in 2023 at the earliest.”
The flight operations of Austrian Airlines have been at a standstill since March 18, 2020 as a consequence of the global pandemic. Austria’s national airline is now preparing to realign its fleet to reflect the decrease in demand. 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 B767s 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 B767s are between 19 and 21 years old.
Austrian’s entire fleet currently has an average age of 15.4 years and by phasing out older aircraft, the age will decrease to 14.6. The fleet currently numbers around 80 aircraft and the phase-out of the turbo-prop fleet and the phase-in of A320s would have reduced it 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.
Alexis von Hoensbroech, CEO, Austrian Airlines said, “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.”