A prominent Lufthansa board member has predicted that U.S. borders will not reopen to Europeans until Christmas. Is he being far too pessimistic or perhaps even too optimistic?
Lufthansa Board Member: U.S. Will Remain Closed To Europeans Till Christmas
Per Aviation Pros, the comment was made by Harry Hohmeister at an industry conference organized by TravelTalk. In making his assessment, he was blunt in questioning the logic of U.S. policymakers when case numbers in Europe were lower and vaccination rates were nearly equivalent. Indeed, in countries like Germany vaccine rates now exceed those of the United States after a very slow start last winter.
Only recently, Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr predicted a September reopening, but has walked that back, saying he would abstain from playing Nostradamus.
While Lufthansa has been hit by a lack of westbound leisure demand, its transatlantic flights have been “profitable” this summer due to strong American demand and even stronger demand for cargo transport.
Hohmeister remarked Lufthansa fills its passenger aircraft “to the rafters with cargo.”
When Lufthansa’s winter schedule begins on October 31st, the carrier intends to bring back its Boeing 747-400 into service to several U.S. destinations including:
- Boston (BOS)
- Denver (DEN)
- Miami (MIA) [currently a 747-8]
- Orlando (MCO)
- Washington Dulles (IAD)
Meanwhile, 747-8 service will continue to:
- Chicago (ORD)
- Houston (IAH)
- Los Angeles (LAX)
- New York (JFK)
- Newark (EWR)
- San Francisco (SFO)
The upguage from Airbus A330s to Boeing 747-400s represents hope for more cargo rather than a boom in passenger traffic during a period of historically lower demand.
I love Germans (hey, I married one), but they are always so pessimistic (my wife corrects me – “We are realist.”) In this case, though, I fear that Hohmeister is correct and probably even optimistic. As we enter the colder months and vaccine progress stalls in the USA thanks to a rampant misinformation campaign, case numbers will continue to rise. That will give the Biden Administration further cover to continue the ban. Indeed, I think a Christmas reopening would be a Christmas miracle. For Lufthansa, cargo will continue to save the day.