The severe travel restrictions being imposed by governments due to the coronavirus outbreak has led low-cost airlines to take drastic measures by reducing schedules, cancelling flights and even grounding fleets.
European carriers face unprecedented challenges as several governments enforce border restrictions, Easyjet is cutting its flight operations while also operating some rescue and repatriation flights.
Ryanair Group Airlines (including Buzz and Lauda) have been forced to severely reduce flights to and from Spain, the Balearic Islands and Canary Islands until 19 March. Austrian-based Lauda has taken further action by cancelling all its flights from 16 March to 8 April.
Ryanair expects the results of these restrictions will be the grounding of most of its aircraft fleet across Europe over the next several days.
The International Airlines Group (IAG) confirmed that travel restrictions and advisories are having a significant and increasingly negative impact on the demand for global air traffic on almost all routes operated by IAG’s airlines.
IAG is implementing further initiatives in response to this challenging market environment. Capacity, in terms of available seat kilometres, in the first quarter of 2020 is now expected to be reduced by around 7.5 per cent compared to last year. For April and May, the group plans to reduce capacity by at least 75 per cent compared to the same period in 2019.
IAG is also taking actions to reduce operating expenses and improve cash flow. These include grounding surplus aircraft, reducing and deferring capital spending, cutting non-essential and non-cyber related IT spend, freezing recruitment and discretionary spending, implementing voluntary leave options, suspending employment contracts and reducing working hours.
Given the continued uncertainty on the potential impact and duration of Covid-19, IAG said it was not possible to give accurate profit guidance for the full year 2020.
Several airlines are offering flexible and free changes to travel itineraries.