Jet2 and Norwegian are the latest carriers to announce radicle measures following international travel bans and guidance from various governments in the wake of the coronavirus.
Most of Norwegian’s fleet is currently parked. The airline has already discontinued a significant number of its flights and the main priority currently is to maintain as many scheduled flights as possible to ensure that passengers are able to return to their home destinations.
Norwegian has temporarily laid off more than 7,300 staff in total which equates to approximately 90 per cent of its workforce, which includes pilots, cabin crew, maintenance and administrative staff.
As of 21 March, the company will primarily fly a reduced scheduled domestically in Norway and between the Nordic capitals. Some European flights will be operated, however. All intercontinental operations are cancelled except flights between Scandinavia and Thailand.
Jet2.com and Jet2holidays are facing significant operation challenges considering their key markets such as Italy, Spain and France are in lockdown. Both carriers will continue to operate their scheduled programme, with aircraft flying empty from the UK to return passengers home.
Chairman of the Aviation Policy Group at The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, Paul Le Blond, says the effect of the coronavirus on aviation is particularly acute as many countries have severely restricted travel, internationally.
He notes, however, that the current situation is temporary, and it will be resolved in time. “Aviation is an essential part of the world economy and social structure and, once the emergency is passed, demand will return,” he said.
“There will be casualties in the meantime, in terms of businesses and jobs and, most importantly, people, but aviation is a very flexible and adaptable sector and will be able to restart much of its activity.”
Le Blond has called on the UK government to publish an aviation strategy for coronavirus recovery.