Lufthansa subsidiary Austrian Airlines will close six regional crew bases to centralize aircraft operations at its Vienna hub and reduce crew travel costs.

Most of Austrian’s four domestic routes are loss-making and the carrier is evaluating solutions, including local government assistance and the European Commission’s public service obligation (PSO) scheme that supports air service routes deemed to be vital for the economic development of the region they serve.

“It is very important to proceed together with the local governments,” Austrian Airlines CCO Andreas Otto told ATW.

Austria’s flag carrier operates up to 17 daily flights from Vienna to the Austrian cities of Salzburg, Graz, Klagenfurt and Innsbruck.

Otto said domestic routes play an essential part in Austrian Airlines’ network and feeder system. The vast majority of domestic passengers are not traveling point-to-point and disembarking in Vienna; instead they connect to flights on Austrian’s and Star Alliance’s global network.

“Our long-term goal is also part of our environmental responsibility,” Otto said, explaining that Austrian is looking to expand its cooperation with Austria’s federal railway company. The carrier has already transferred all its domestic flights between Vienna and Linz to the train system.

Austrian transports more than half-million passengers on its domestic routes, the majority transferring through Vienna.

Kurt Hofmann, hofmann.aviation@netway.at