AUA ‘to jack up cancellation fees’

Austrian Airlines (AUA) is set to introduce higher cancellation fees, Austrian business newspapers report today (Weds).

Viennese dailies write that the economically challenged airline will ask costumers wanting to cancel or change their bookings for flights within Europe for 60 instead of 50 Euros as of 1 August. Reports also have it that changes regarding tickets for intercontinental connections will cost 120 instead of 100 Euros and 180 instead of 150 Euros depending on the destinations.

AUA bosses were informed by the German Lufthansa Group chiefs they expected the Vienna-based carrier to be in the black by the end of this year. AUA, which looks back on a string of loss-making years, was acquired by Lufthansa in 2009.

AUA had 2.1 million passengers between January and March 2011, up by one per cent compared to the first quarter of 2010. The firm managed to reduce its first quarter loss from 64.7 million Euros in 2010 to 63.5 million Euros this year.

AUA board member Andreas Bierwirth recently caused a stir by claiming that the airline “had a lot of bad luck” in the past months. He pointed out that its connections to destinations in the Arab region and North Africa were less in demand due to the unrest in some countries located there. Bierwirth added that AUA’s usually popular link to Narita International Airport (NRT) near Tokyo, Japan, was negatively affected by the tsunami and the nuclear disaster the Asian country experienced in March.

News that AUA – which has around 6,000 employees – plans to implement higher fees for the cancellation and change of reservations comes shortly after it altered its luggage regulations.

Economy class passengers are allowed to check in just one piece of luggage weighing not more than 23 kilograms (kg) since the beginning of this month, while business class customers are granted two pieces of 32 kg altogether.

Economy class customers were granted an unlimited number of suitcases and bags weighing not more than 20 kg overall before the change was made. Business class passengers had the right to take luggage tipping the scale at 30 kg with them before 1 July.