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As the world starts to believe that we can finally see a glimpse of hope that the coronavirus will be brought under control, we’re beginning to see more and more airlines planning to restart some of the routes that they cut almost a year ago. Recently, Emirates said that would be returning to a number of US cities and now Austrian Airlines has committed to do the same.
Before the pandemic took over our lives, Austrian Airlines offered non-stop services between Vienna and five US airports but, as things stand, the airline is serving just two (Newark and Washington D.C). By the beginning of the second month of the summer season, however, the airline will have added back two of the three currently suspended routes.
Austrian Airlines Restarts Two US Routes
From 26 March 2021 (the first day of the airline’s summer season), Austrian airlines will restart service between Vienna and Chicago O’Hare. The route will be operated three times a week on the following schedule:
OS65 VIE 10:45 – 13:45 ORD (Wed, Fri & Sun)
OS66 ORD 16:20 – 08:25+1 day VIE (Wed, Fri & Sun)
This route will be operated by Austrian’s refurbished Boeing 767-300ER aircraft (details of which have been provided later in this post).
New York (JFK)
Austrian Airlines already offers service to Newark but from 1 May 2021 it will also go back to offering service between Vienna and New York (JFK). As things stand, the airline will offer 3 weekly flights on this route (this may change as the summer season progresses) on the following schedule:
OS87 VIE 10:40 – 14:15 JFK (Tue, Thu & Sat)
OS88 JFK 17:45 – 08:20+1 day VIE (Tue, Thu & Sat)
When you add in Austrian’s flights between Vienna and Newark…
OS89 VIE 10:15 – 13:50 EWR (Mon, Wed, Fri, Sat & Sun)
OS90 EWR 17:40 – 08:10+1 day VIE (Mon, Wed, Fri, Sat & Sun)
…the airline will be offering 8 weekly flights to the New York area by the beginning of May.
Both of Austrian’s routes to the New York area will be operated by its refurbished Boeing 767-300ER aircraft (details of which have been provided later in this post).
Austrian Airlines’ Other US Routes
Pre pandemic, Austrian Airlines offered a seasonal summer service to Los Angeles and had plans to launch a new route between Vienna and Boston but, for the time being, the airline isn’t showing any signs of flying to either city.
It should be noted that even before COVID-19 took its toll on the airline industry, Austrian Airlines wasn’t in great shape. The airline was facing fierce short-haul competition from low-cost flyers (competition that hasn’t gone away), it was struggling to compete across the Atlantic (it had cut its route to Miami and cut two of its seven weekly seasonal flights to Los Angeles), and it had announced a big fleet rationalization program as it looked to cut costs.
None of these issues has gone away and the pandemic certainly hasn’t helped so while it’s great to see Austrian returning to JFK and Chicago, I don’t think we should expect the airline to bring back flights to LA or to launch a new service to Boston any time soon.
Austrian Airlines 767-300ER
The Austrian Airlines Boeing 767-300ER offers a Business Class cabin with 26 lie-flat all-aisle-access seats, a Premium Economy cabin with 18 recliner seats set out in a 2-2-2 layout, and an Economy Class cabin with 167 seats set out in a 2-3-2 layout.
The Business Class cabin offers similar seats (but not the same) to the ones offered on the Malaysia Airlines A330 (reviewed here)…
…Premium Economy seats that are on a part with what a lot of other transatlantic airlines offer (19″ wide and up to 38″ of pitch) and an Economy Class cabin that’s just as cramped as most transatlantic Economy Class cabins (most seats are just 17″ wide and have just 31″ of pitch) but that feels a little less claustrophobic due to the fact that there are only 7 seats in each row.
Overall, the Business Class cabin is passable (I’m not a big fan), the Premium Economy cabin is fine if unspectacular, and the Economy Cabin is no better and no worse than most of the other Economy Class cabins you’ll find on routes to/from the US.
Austrian Airlines will be restarting service to Chicago O’Hare from 26 March and to New York (JFK) from 1 May. The airline hasn’t said if it plans to bring back its regular summer service to Los Angeles and there’s no news about its planned new route to Boston but I suspect that we’ll have to have a lot more certainty about future travel before Austrian re-commits to either of those routes.