LOT Polish Airlines Suspends All Flights

Filed Under: LOT

UPDATE: LOT Polish Airlines extended the suspension of a majority of their long-haul flights until August 31, 2020.

This situation sure is evolving rapidly, making it hard for airlines to develop long-term strategies to cope with the new reality. A few days ago we still saw airlines hesitate to allow people to change and cancel tickets for free, and now we’re seeing airlines shut down temporarily altogether.

LOT Polish Airlines suspends flights

Polish national airline LOT has announced that they will be suspending all flights as of March 15, 2020, for a period of 10 days. This includes the company’s flights from both Poland and Hungary (as they even operate long haul flights out of Budapest).

While the company claims that cancelations will only last for 10 days, I’d note that I see all LOT fights “zeroed out” (meaning all inventory has been removed) through March 29, 2020. That suggests to me that they may plan on this lasting at least two weeks.

LOT has a fleet of nearly 100 aircraft, including 15 Boeing 787s, which they use for long haul routes. Their biggest long haul destination is the US, and presumably those flights would have been canceled anyway, given the new US travel ban on Europe.

Poland is essentially closing borders

This policy comes as a response to the Polish government’s decision to more or less close their borders. As of Sunday, Poland will be banning foreigners from entering the country, and will impose a 14 day quarantine on citizens returning home.

As Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki described the situation:

“The state will not abandon (its citizens). However, in the current situation, we cannot allow ourselves to keep borders open to foreigners.”

With this, the country won’t have any more international inbound flights or trains as of Sunday, with the exception of some charter flights bringing nationals home. Poland is also closing shopping malls, in an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Bottom line

These are truly unprecedented times. As far as I know, LOT is the first global airline to announce that they’re completely suspending operations (I wrote yesterday about how La Compagnie is suspending operations, but they’re much smaller).

I imagine LOT may only be the first of many airlines to suspend operations…

Comments
  1. @Sean M.

    According to the EU Reg. 261/2004, an extraordinary circumstance is an event beyond an airline’s control. The Coronavirus outbreak is such an event and has been defined as a pandemic by the W.H.O. These cancellations are made in the interest of public safety, and those affected are not entitled to compensation.

  2. Czech Airlines announced the same already yesterday. Suspending all operations for 30 days as country (Czech Republic) is closed for all international travel as of coming Monday.

  3. @Lucky

    Saudi Arabia has stopped all international flights for at least the next 2 weeks. Seems Saudi airlines will keep operating domestically (for now).

  4. Denmark closing borders from Mar.15 and Czech closing borders from Mar.16,,,it is time to consider the survival of airlines…

  5. I’m in KRK now.
    Supposed to fly to Kiev tomorrow.
    Ukraine is already closed.
    Tried getting flight out today but all are full.
    Went to train station and all are full.
    Now waiting in Krakow bus station for an 11 trip to Berlin that gets me across the border before midnight.
    Wonder how American will handle me wanting to return out of TXL, rather than WAW, as I was ticketed.

  6. @MilesJackson @AJO – The test for compensation is “could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken”.

    The onus is on the airlines to demonstrate that they have taken these reasonable measures. It would be very difficult to justify the reasonable nature of some of the actions taken by them. The decisions to cancel flights for the most part are purely commercial ones.

    The root cause may be the pandemic and government restrictions, but that does not exonerate the airline from having to pay compensation to passengers on the flights that COULD operate but they chose not to operate. For example, flights from the Schengen area to the US are NOT prohibited – but it is prohibited to transport non-US nationals on those flights unless they fall into some narrow exceptions. The airline could still choose to operate that flight for the benefit of the handful of passengers who still may be able to travel. That they chose not to do so would constitute a commercial decision and therefore would hold them liable to pay compensation.

  7. I am currently in Tokyo and flew in on LOT from TXL, my original return flight was going to be on the 21st, which was cancelled three days ago. Just received an email that this is happening and booked the next flight out on Lufthansa back to Berlin using miles in fear that I am going to be stuck here if other countries/airlines follow suit.

    What is totally blowing my mind is that LOT will not accommodate those in the middle of travel, who are away from their home country, by putting them on a different airline. Not that you can even get ahold of them at the moment. Their line has been busy for hours.

  8. It’s almost impossible to imagine the level of ignorance capable from mankind. Sheer madness!

  9. @sean m are you serious ?! If people are just going to seek compensation based on people’s misery they are absolute morons
    The entire reason airlines are forced to do this is due to the virus
    Therefore it’s absolutely no reason to compensate

    I would be more concerned about jobs than anything else

    The airline can’t operate if the country there crew or passengers are travelling to is imposing a restriction

    If you are more concerned than your 600 euros when you paid €200 for your ticket than people’s lives and welfare , your are a truly awful person

  10. I honestly don’t want to be overreacting, but I think we are beginning to see the end of the free movement EU. Brexit started it but this is totally obliterating the open border policy between EU states. More countries will demand hard borders again. Once this is all done, the world will have completely changed much like after 9/11.

  11. To follow up, I think this is also the beginning of the end of a majority of inter-EU flights. Public support was already wobbly due to global warming. I expect to see major investments in trains connecting all of Europe while airlines will be more for inter-continental purposes.

  12. @Icarus – Certainly, if there is a situation where the country has shut down its borders (eg. Kuwait) to all scheduled flights, that meets the test for “reasonable”.

    However, in the case of flights from the Schengen area to the USA for example, the flight itself is not banned. The transport of certain passengers may be restricted, but that should not be the problem of the other passengers booked on the flight. The airline is making a commercial decision to cancel the flight because they are unwilling to honour their contract commitment to the small number of passengers remaining. That decision comes at a price, and the price is the payment of the statutory compensation to those passengers.

  13. I had a British Airways flight (LGW-BGY) cancelled last week because the load was too low (this was before any Italian quarantines). BA operated the flight on the following three days. My request for EU 261/2004 compensation was denied by the airline, even though its own customer service agents clearly stated that this was a commercial decision and not one of safety. While I understand airlines are in a difficult situation, being lied to evaporates any sympathy I might have had for British Airways.

  14. @sean m. Idiot. Airlines losing money jobs lost Your opinion.

    The greed of people nowadays who don’t care and just want their 600 euros

    Airlines are making decisions because there are restrictions placed on them and passengers and crew by governments

  15. #@Sean.m Christ do you have to be this annoying. People are dropping dead in the streets like on an apocalyptic zombie movie and your crapping on about Nancy Nancy Nancy.

  16. @Sean.m btw anyone that posts their photo with commentary in my opinion is douched. How do you spend your days. Clipping roses stroking kittens salivating watching your neighbour hang her panties on the washing line. Creeep

  17. @Icarus – I work for an airline. I know better than most that jobs are at risk. That doesn’t change what the EU regulations state. I don’t personally agree with them, but they are what they are.

    @Craig jnr – Not sure where you live, but dead bodies lying in the street sounds awful. Stay safe.

  18. For anyone criticizing @Sean M. you are being unfair. He has demonstrated over the years to be a great source of information on airline travel and even nation-specific restrictions. He hasn’t said that he’s thrilled about the airline industry’s woes, but merely stating his interpretation of EU regulations. Decide for yourselves. If you feel so bad for the airlines why don’t you donate some money to them.

  19. This downturn in aviation is completely different to anything we’ve ever had before. It’s different because it affects everybody. After 9/11 people who weren’t afraid kept on flying as if everything was normal. During the 2008 financial crisis those with enough money could and would fly. Coronavirus is different, there are travel bans, mass hysteria and nobody is flying. This is different because everybody is affected.

  20. @Joanna Rajter

    All international flights and trains to Poland have been suspended. However, roads are still open, so you can get in by car or coach.

    The Polish government also said they will run charter flights to evacuate Polish citizens from Western Europe

  21. LOT is saying that only international routes are suspended. Domestic routes in Poland are still operating.

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