Frankfurt | crews who do not learn their destination until a few hours before take off, the pilot maintained level flight without passengers or simulators: the recovery of airlines after the peak of the sars coronavirus is in the difficulty.
“There is almost no schedules fixed but only periodic penalty payments” for the staff, recently explained the skipper of the first european air group, Lufthansa, Carsten Spohr.
“They know when to be at the airport and are informed of the destination with a few hours in advance” only, he added. These methods so far used to respond to exceptional circumstances “become the norm”, said Mr Spohr.
The challenge of the reboot for this sector is immense. For more than two months, he was almost to the stop with, in the case of Lufthansa, offer flights comparable to that of the 1950s, 3,000 passengers daily instead of 350 000.
Boot to the blind
Problem: the airline industry has no visibility into demand or on the road it will be possible in the short term to reopen.
So the artificial intelligence, widely used before the crisis to the planning, is placed in the closet: “the data has been collected for decades are useless, at least in the near future” and “we must all re-learn” the algorithm, ” says the chief financial officer Thorsten Dirks.
And in the meantime the human mind is “faster and more flexible”, he adds.
Some flights, as the first intended in the direction of India, are cancelled the day before for the following day by lack of landing clearance.
For others, on the contrary, the demand proves to be too much at the last moment. During the weekend of Pentecost, the boss of Lufthansa had booked in order to leave with his family for a long weekend of Pentecost, to eventually find themselves on a waiting list of 70 people.
It took “all of a sudden add a second plane in parallel,” says Mr. Spohr.
At the peak of the crisis, 700 of 763 aircraft of Lufthansa were nailed to the ground, parked by the dozen on the tarmac of the Frankfurt airport and even an airstrip.
“It is possible to reactivate in a day or two” of those put in the hangar for less than three months, ” says Lara welding operations with a line, a spokesperson for the group, to the AFP.
But beyond that, the machines are in “deep storage”. “The procedure to re-enable them is heavier, sometimes up to four weeks,” notes the spokesperson.
Beyond being available, the staff must also be up to date in training, and for some drivers, as in Transair in Senegal, it means flying without passengers to keep the licenses. Others rely on simulators.
In the rest of the world, the recovery is slow: Singapore Airlines, where the reactivation takes “between a few days and a week depending on the type of aircraft, will offer 12 additional destinations from June and July. But, with 32 destinations against 135 normally, the asian group operates only in 6% of its capacity pre-Covid-19.
In Japan, restart “progressive” also for JAL and ANA, which provides 30% of its flights in June, compared to only 15% in may.
Lufthansa account serve by September, again 90% of the destinations for short-haul and 70% in the long-haul. But despite a proliferation of connections, the bid shall not be then in total only 40% of normal.
“Our goal was primarily to reconnect the German metropolises and europe to our hubs”, of which the first hub German Frankfurt, and ‘ serve to new destinations are very tourist,” details Ms. welding operations with a line.
With flight cancellations communicated a few weeks in advance to the passenger, the telephone customer service to cancel or edit tickets is overloaded. Currently, the group pays out hundreds of millions of euros in repayments per month, according to Mr. Spohr.
The system works for the moment. “But when we try to run a business such as ours, to earn money, this is not a sustainable method,” she concludes.