Wednesday, 4 March 2020

Ryanair and British Airways among many airlines cutting flights as coronavirus COVID-19 reduces demand.

Ryanair, British Airways and Easyjet are among many airlines that are axing flights and reducing scheduled in the wake of the Coronovius COVID-19 outbreak that is crushing travel demand. 

Ryanair has said it has seen a significant drop in bookings over that late March/early April period, in response to the Covid-19 Virus and therefore would cancel 25% of Italian short-haul flights from 17th March To 8th April

Despite the airline making huge profits,  the airline's management is forcing the staff to take the brunt of a raft of cost-saving measures because of the falling demand.  It is introducing late and short notice rolling schedule cuts as booking patterns alter, allocating annual leave and/or unpaid leave to pilots and cabin crew and freezing recruitment, and promotion and pay freezes across the network - except for senior management level. 

Ryanair Group CEO, Michael O’Leary said: “Our focus at this time is on minimising any risk to our people and our passengers. While we are heavily booked over the next two weeks, there has been a notable drop in forward bookings towards the end of Mar, into early Apr. It makes sense to selectively prune our schedule to and from those airports where travel has been most affected by the Covid-19 outbreak."  Despite the cancellation of hundreds of flights, O'Leary insists "This is a time for calm. We will make sensible cuts to our schedules over the comings weeks to reflect weaker bookings, and changing travel patterns."

Budget carrier easyJet has also seen a significant drop in demand, especially for Northern Italy, as a result, the firm will be making decisions to "cancel some flights, particularly those into and out of Italy while continuing to monitor the situation and adapting our flying programme."

In addition to axing some flights, easyJet will start with a number of  "operational efficiency and cost savings" in all areas of the business, budget cuts in administrative areas and discretionary spend, recruitment, promotion and pay freezes across the network, the postponement of non-critical project and capital expenditure as well as offering unpaid leave and halting non-mandatory training. Aircraft reallocation for summer 2020 will help cut costs.

British Airways has confirmed it will be cancelling 216 flights between 16th and 28th March from London to a variety of destinations including New York, Italy, France, Austria, Belgium, Germany and Ireland.  The carrier said it would be in touch with customers to offer to rebook on other airlines, other flights or postponing travel until later in the year.

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