As countries begin to gradually ease travel restrictions, Lufthansa plans to offer three weekly non-stop flights from Toronto to Frankfurt and back starting on June 3, officials with the German airline announced Thursday.
Additional flights to other Canadian gateway destinations, including Montreal and Vancouver, are also being evaluated and planned for later in the summer, said Hans DeHaan, Lufthansa Group’s senior director in Canada.
The first Toronto-bound flight will depart Frankfurt on June 3, and the same aircraft will return to Germany the next day, DeHaan told Radio Canada International.
There is currently a ban on all international non-essential travel into Canada and the European Union, but Canadian citizens are allowed to come back to Canada and European Union citizens in Canada are allowed to return to the EU despite the travel ban, DeHaan said.
“That’s part of the market that we would go after,” DeHaan said.
In light of fewer travellers, the passenger planes will be able to carry more cargo, DeHaan said.
“We can now take high-density cargo that before maybe we couldn’t because of the passenger loads,” DeHaan said. “That helps. The cargo demand is high and not just for us. It’s for most airlines. But we have to start somewhere. We have to get this thing going.”
Before the pandemic, Lufthansa Group offered 64 weekly flights to Canada in the summer and half that number in the winter, he said.
The Toronto–Frankfurt flight will add an important long-haul connection for Toronto-based travel to Europe, the Middle East, Africa and India, DeHaan said. These include flights within Germany, as well as to cities in Austria, France, Italy, Spain and Switzerland.
Lufthansa Group, which includes Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian Airlines and Brussels Airlines, plans to serve a total of 106 European destinations next month, he said.
Flights to Tel Aviv are also being planned, as are connections to the cities of Abuja and Port Harcourt in Nigeria; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Mumbai; and Johannesburg.
Stringent public health measures
As international airlines work to counter the spread of the pandemic, the flying experience will include stringent hygiene and public health measures.
Beginning May 4, the airlines of the Lufthansa Group will require that all passengers wear a mask while on board, DeHaan said.
“Passengers have to feel safe. They have to feel that they can take this journey and that they don’t have to worry that they’re going to catch something while being on the aircraft,” DeHaan said. “That is now a very high priority for us.”
These measures mean masks not only for the passengers but also for the crew for the duration of the flight, he said, as well as a lot more sanitation measures.
“The meals might not be served anymore from a trolley. They might be served covered in a type of lunchbox or a dinner box, just to eliminate some of these risks,” DeHaan said.
Furthermore, due to a decrease in flight demand, seats will be allocated as far apart as possible within the cabin.
“I’m a firm believer that air travel will come back, but it will take a little bit of time,” DeHaan said.