With the Coronavirus Disease continuing to spread and already more than 80 confirmed cases in the UK. The flag carrier and the largest operator in the country, British Airways, has announced plans to cancel over 400 flights in March.
According to the Independent, between 16th and 28th March there are to be 342 short-haul cancellations at British Airways’ hub at London-Heathrow. These flights are mainly to and from European cities.
Moreover, 52 services from London-City Airport to Germany and Italy have already been cancelled. This is significant considering the overall low traffic volume at London-City Airport.
At Gatwick, another major airport in London, 14 departures and arrivals serving cities in Italy, France and Albania have been cancelled.
Finally, one daily round-trip flight between London-Heathrow and New York-JFK has been cancelled.
This route is the only route in the world that generates over $1 billion yearly revenue. The cancellation shows the substantial decline of current business travelling demand.
In response to the cancellations, British Airways stated the following to Simple Flying:
To match reduced demand due to the continuing coronavirus issue, we are merging a number of flights between March 16 and March 28.
Europe’s largest low-cost carrier, Ryanair, has also massively reduced capacity.
Ryanair is reducing its short-haul flights by up to 25% for a 3 week period from 17th March to 8th April, in response to COVID-19.
Over the past week, Ryanair has seen a significant drop in bookings over that late March/early April period. There has also been a significant increase in passenger no-shows on flights, particularly from and within Italy.
The airline has also initiated a daily COVID-19 action meeting since 24th February, contents of which have include allocating unpaid leave to pilots and cabin crew.
… 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. … We will make sensible cuts to our schedules over the comings weeks to reflect weaker bookings, and changing travel patterns.Ryanair Group CEO, Michael O’Leary