BERLIN (Reuters) – Bookings at Lufthansa have tripled for next Summer boosted by the imminent approval of a COVID-19 vaccine, Chief Executive Carsten Spohr told a German magazine, adding he expects business on average to reach half of 2019 levels next year.
Spohr told Wirtschaftswoche that the concrete prospect of an effective vaccine against the coronavirus had boosted confidence among passengers.
“The fact that people have also already reserved flights for the Easter period shows how confident they are,” he was quoted as saying on Friday.
“I expect that next year we will be able to achieve half the level of 2019 again on average, and for the summer and autumn we calculate up to 70%.”
Lufthansa expects to stop bleeding cash next year and hopes to be profitable from 2022, he said.
Spohr hopes the German government, which gave the airline 9 billion euros ($10.94 billion) in state aid in May in return for a 20% stake, will be able to reduce its holding in Lufthansa from 2023.
He said Lufthansa has drawn down only 3 billion euros of the bailout and only spent a small part thanks to strict cost management.
Still, Spohr said the airline will have to lay off 1,000 pilots in the second quarter if it cannot seal a wage agreement with unions on cutting salaries and reducing working hours.
“In the absence of an agreement, it will probably be the first time in the history of our company that 500 captains and 500 first officers will have to leave us in the second quarter of 2021,” Spohr said.
(Reporting by Thomas Seythal and Caroline Copley; Editing by Christopher Cushing)