Nine billion and 1.24 million: these two figures have raised the federal government against Lufthansa. Although the airline received around nine billion euros as part of an aid package, more than a million customers are still waiting to be reimbursed for their canceled flights.

"It is incomprehensible that Lufthansa has not yet met its legal obligations despite massive state aid," said State Secretary for Economic Affairs Ulrich Nussbaum to  Spiegel . Nussbaum demanded that the group immediately repay the ticket purchase price to the passengers concerned. A quick reimbursement was part of the negotiations on the aid package, the federal government attaches great importance to it. It is about "a question of trust".

But at the beginning of August only 3.24 million of 4.48 million reimbursement applications had been processed, according to a statement by Lufthansa that the group had submitted to the Federal Aviation Office. At the Lufthansa subsidiary Eurowings, too, around half of the 378,000 applications are still open. That is why the Ministry of Economic Affairs exchanged "partly armored e-mails" with the company last week, reports  Der Spiegel .

Federal Aviation Office initiates proceedings

In the letter to the Federal Aviation Office, Lufthansa admits that despite enormous efforts, it was not possible to meet the payment deadline "in accordance with our own claims and the legal requirements". The large number of reimbursement applications simply overwhelmed the group. Airlines are obliged to compensate customers no later than seven days after a canceled flight.

Lufthansa attributes the delay, among other things, to the strict lockdown in India. The employees of a local call center service provider could therefore only have worked to a limited extent. Nevertheless, according to Spiegel information, the Federal Aviation Office has  already initiated administrative offense proceedings and is considering a fine of up to one million euros. Whether this will accelerate the payout is questionable: Overall, Lufthansa will have to reimburse tickets worth more than three billion euros.

The corona crisis hit Lufthansa hard. In the second quarter of 2020, the group made a loss of 1.5 billion euros. Sales plummeted by 80 percent because 25 times fewer people bought airline tickets than in the same period last year. Despite the state financial aid, Lufthansa no longer rules out redundancies for operational reasons.