European Airlines Resume Flights For Summer Travel At Different Paces, But British Airways/IAG, Air France-KLM And Lufthansa May Converge

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Travel will resume this summer as Europe’s major airline groups plan to add flights at different paces. The initial projections are subject to travel restrictions and bans being gradually lifted.

British Airways owner IAG tentatively plans the largest increase, operating 45% of capacity between July and September, the third quarter. Air France-KLM projects to fly only around 20%.

But airlines are likely to converge and match each other’s capacity.

“Our intent is to operate at the same relative level as our competitors,” Air France-KLM Group CEO Benjamin Smith told investors last week.

IAG CEO Willie Walsh said of Air France-KLM’s capacity plans: “I don’t think it’s going to ultimately be a million miles away from what we all do.”

Lufthansa plans to operate 160 passenger aircraft from June, representing about 21% of its passenger fleet. Capacity may be lower as airlines resume short-haul flights faster than intercontinental travel. Lufthansa said it will provide more information this week.

European flights will “come back faster than long-haul,” Smith said. “We do not see all of our major markets having the borders open as quickly as what we can do inside of Europe.”