Airlines Cancel Most Flights As Coronavirus Spreads

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Airlines Cancel Most Flights As Coronavirus Spreads

Travel restrictions and a slump in demand due to the coronavirus has forced airlines to cancel almost all flights and temporarily reduce staff.

Virgin Atlantic will cut four fifths of its flights and has asked staff to take eight weeks of unpaid leave.

Other airlines have also taken drastic measures, with budget airlines Ryanair and EasyJet grounding most of their fleets.

British Airways owner IAG plans to cut capacity by 75% in April and May.

Holiday company Tui has said it will suspend the “majority” of its operations, affecting “package travel, cruises and hotel” bookings.

Passenger numbers and bookings have plummeted in recent weeks as countries closed their borders and holiday makers cancelled trips.

‘Sharp drop in demand’

Virgin Atlantic said travel restrictions have “accelerated the sharp and continual drop in demand for flights”.

The firm said that it was going to reduce its services to focus on “core routes”. Its London Heathrow-Newark route will be cut immediately.

It added that it needed to reduce costs elsewhere. The airline will ask staff to take eight weeks’ unpaid leave over the next three months, with the cost spread over six months’ salary.

Virgin said it was doing this to avoid job losses, although it is also offering a voluntary redundancy package to all employees.

“There is no cash whatsoever coming in the doors,” said aviation analyst John Strickland, who warned that airlines could continue to lose money very quickly.


Analysis box by Kevin Peachey, Personal finance and consumer affairs reporter

Mass cancellations of flights in an unprecedented situation may leave passengers unsure of their rights.

For those yet to fly out, it is relatively straightforward – you should be given a refund or, in some cases, the option to rebook for another date.

If this is part of a package holiday, then the entire cost of the holiday will be refunded. A separate hotel booking will require a call to the hotel, asking for leeway, or perhaps a travel insurance claim if the policy covers you.

For those trying to get home, an airline has a duty of care to get you back if they have cancelled your flight. This may mean flying with another airline or putting you on a different mode of transport. If an extra overnight stay is required, the airline should pay for that as well as the food you need.

However, for those who accept a refund for a cancelled return flight, the airline’s duty of care ends at that point. You would then have to get yourself home, which could be difficult given the current restrictions.

https://www.bbc.com

Consumer organisation Which? has called on airlines and holiday firms to give clear, fast advice to customers as the situation changes.


IAG boss Willie Walsh, who was due to step down this month, will now stay in his post to manage the crisis.

Coronavirus And A Fake News Pandemic

“We have seen a substantial decline in bookings across our airlines and global network over the past few weeks and we expect demand to remain weak until well into the summer,” he said.

“We are therefore making significant reductions to our flying schedules,” Mr Walsh said, adding that the group had the flexibility to make further cuts if necessary.

Airlines Cancel Most Flights As Coronavirus Spreads

5 COMMENTS

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