As countries begin to gradually ease travel restrictions, Lufthansa plans to offer three weekly non-stop flights from Toronto to Frankfurt and back from June 3, German airline officials announced Thursday.
Other flights to other Canadian gateway destinations, including Montreal and Vancouver, are also being evaluated and planned for late summer, said Hans DeHaan, senior director of the Lufthansa Group in Canada.
The first flight to Toronto will depart Frankfurt on June 3, and the same plane will return to Germany the next day, DeHaan told Radio Canada International.
Currently, there is a ban on all non-essential international travel to Canada and the European Union, but Canadian citizens can return to Canada and European Union citizens in Canada can return to the EU despite the travel ban, said DeHaan.
"This is part of the market that we would be looking for," said DeHaan.
In view of fewer travelers, passenger planes will be able to carry more cargo, DeHaan said.
"We can now transport high-density cargo that we might not have been able to because of passenger loads," said DeHaan. "It helps. The demand for cargo is high and not just for us. It's for most airlines. But we have to start from somewhere. We have to take this further."
Before the pandemic, the Lufthansa Group offered 64 weekly flights to Canada in the summer and half that number in the winter, he said.
The flight between Toronto and Frankfurt will add an important long-haul connection for Toronto-based travel to Europe, the Middle East, Africa and India, said DeHaan. This includes flights in Germany, as well as cities in Austria, France, Italy, Spain and Switzerland.
The 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 well as connections to the cities of Abuja and Port Harcourt in Nigeria; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Mumbai; and Johannesburg.
Strict public health measures
While international airlines work to combat the spread of the pandemic, the flight experience will include stringent hygiene and public health measures.
As of May 4, Lufthansa Group airlines will require all passengers to wear a mask on board, said DeHaan.
"Passengers need to feel safe. They need to feel that they can make this journey and that they don't have to worry about picking up something while on the plane," said DeHaan. "This is now a very high priority for us."
These measures mean masks not only for passengers, but also for the flight crew, he said, in addition to much more sanitation measures.
"Meals may no longer be served on a cart. They can be served covered by a kind of lunch box or a dinner box, just to eliminate some of those risks," said DeHaan.
In addition, due to a decrease in flight demand, seats will be allocated as far apart as possible inside the cabin.
"I firmly believe that air travel will come back, but it will take a little time," said DeHaan.