Airlines Cancelling Thousands of Flights Worldwide Over Coronavirus

Coronavirus: Airlines cancel thousands of flights worldwide

* Carriers plan layoffs for crew members, ground staff

* Why some airlines now operate ‘ghost flights’

Web Editor | ConsumerConnect

As the negative impacts of the spread of Coronavirus deepen in several economies, thousands of flights have been cancelled worldwide as airlines struggle to cope with a slump in demand caused by the Coronavirus outbreak.

Ryanair will stop services to and from Italy from Friday, March 13 until 8 April, 2020, with BA scrapping its routes until 4 April as the country goes into lockdown, BBC reports.

EasyJet has cancelled all of its flights to and from Italy between 10 March and 3 April.

It said it would operate “rescue flights” in the coming days.

Similarly, Norwegian Air has said it will cut about 3,000 flights in the next three months, about 15% of its capacity.

The airline also plans to temporarily lay off “a significant share” of its workforce.

“We have initiated formal consultations with our unions regarding temporary layoffs for flying crew members as well as employees on the ground and in the offices,” said Chief Executive Jacob Schram.

While the restrictions on travel to Italy and China have meant some services have stopped completely, there has also been a general fall in demand as holiday-makers put their plans on hold and firms instruct staff to limit travel.

Which airlines have cancelled flights?

British Airways: All of its Italy routes are cancelled until 4 April

EasyJet: In the process of cancelling all of its Italy flights between 10 March and 3 April

Ryanair: Scrapped all Italy flights from this Friday until 8 April

Norwegian Air: Will cut 15% of its global schedule for a month

American Airlines: Cutting 7.5% of its domestic flights in April

However, behind the scenes, the British Government is reportedly talking to airlines to make sure that there are enough routes operating from Italy so that British nationals who need to get home can do so.

So, Ryanair is not suspending all of its Italy flights until this Friday. Anyone with a flight after then can rebook to an earlier flight this week.

A handful of EasyJet “rescue flights” in the coming days will also be designed to get people back to Britain, and to allow essential travel to Italy, the report stated.

There is no talk of an official repatriation programme, but a co-ordinated response is underway to try and ensure that no-one is left stranded thus far.

If you’re concerned about your flight, the usual advice applies: check with your airline.

Emergence of ghost flights

Some airlines have continued to operate near-empty flights in order to protect their rights to take-off and landing slots.

Under EU (European Union) “use it or lose it” rules, they are required to run services on busy routes or forfeit them to other airline operators.

However, European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen has announced that airlines will be allowed to keep their slots even if they are not flying routes.

“This is a temporary measure, and this temporary measure helps both our industry, but it also helps our environment,” Von der Leyen said.

“It will relieve the pressure on the aviation industry and in particular, on smaller airline companies. But it will also decrease emissions by avoiding so-called ghost flights.”

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