Having seen services to Asia slashed, coronavirus (officially named Covid-19) is now beginning to affect shorter haul airlines in Europe.
According to EasyJet, it has seen a significant softening of demand and load factors into and out of its northern Italian bases and some slower demand across or other European markets following the outbreak of coronavirus. In response, it will be making decisions to cancel some flights while continuing to monitor the situation and adapting the flying programme to support demand.
It is working closely with authorities and is following the guidelines provided by the World Health Organisation and EASA to ensure the health and wellbeing of staff and customers. A cross-functional working group is meeting daily to make sure that all processes and policies remain effective.
It notes that procedures for dealing with communicable diseases are similar to those developed during the SARS epidemic and other global health emergencies.
In the meantime, to help mitigate the impact from Covid-19, it will be focusing on delivering operational efficiency and cost savings across a number of areas of the business, including:
– Budget cuts in administrative areas and discretionary spend
– Recruitment, promotion and pay freezes across the network
– Postponement of non-critical project and capital expenditure
– Offering unpaid leave and halting non-mandatory training
– Working with third party suppliers to further reduce cost
– Aircraft reallocation for summer 2020 which will offer the highest revenue opportunities on market recovery.
Wizz Air has cut capacity to Italy by around 60 per cent due to the decreasing trend in demand caused by the outbreak of the virus. There are significant cancellations on specific routes to northern Italy, where most cases of infection have been reported.
Affected cities include Bari, Bologna, Catania, Milan-Bergamo, Milan-Malpensa, Naples, Pisa, Rome-Ciampino, Treviso, Turin and Verona.
Passengers with bookings affected by this change will be automatically informed and accommodated on an alternative route at the earliest possible date but at least 14 days prior to the original date of the flight.
Customers who have booked directly on wizzair.com or the airline’s mobile app will receive an email notification, in which they are offered free rebooking, a full refund or a 120 per cent refund of the original fare in airline credit.
Lufthansa Group is offering free rebooking on flights to Milan, Bologna, Turin, Verona, Venice, Trieste and Genoa. This applies to tickets issued on Lufthansa, SWISS, Austrian, Brussels Airlines or Air Dolomiti on or before 26 February for travel dates between 24 February and 9 March.
Athens-based Aegean Airlines is continuing flights to Italy but is also offering free of charge ticket changes across its network for travel up to 20 March, with a deadline of 20 October. It is also taking pre-emptive action by augmenting standard aircraft cleaning procedures between flights, in Greece and abroad, both during the day and after the completion of flights at night.
In addition, it has already set up a process for disinfection with a specialised company in cases where a possible affected passenger is reported by the Greek National Public Health OrganiSation (NPHO).