Airlines Affected by COVID-19
Airlines Affected by COVID-19

In January, the outbreak of the Coronavirus Disease had put China in a special position. Airlines around the world suspended flights to and from China. Governments around the world sent dozens of evacuation flights to help their citizens.

In February, the Coronavirus Disease started to spread to various countries in Asia including South Korea, Japan and Singapore.

Now, one week into March, we see the Coronavirus Disease is spreading all over the world. At the time of writing, the number of global confirmed cases outside of China is already 22,679.

a map of the world
Locations with Confirmed COVID-19 Cases. Source US CDC

The aviation industry is one of the most affected businesses. Most people do not have enough confidence to travel. The novel coronavirus outbreak will cost the airline industry between $63 billion and $113 billion, in lost revenue from passengers this year; the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said as they revised their estimate for a $30 billion loss, made just two weeks ago.

The scenario for a $113 billion in global revenue losses would involve the virus spreading more broadly, IATA said in a statement in Singapore on Thursday. That would represent a 19% drop from 2019, leading to a financial impact equivalent to what the aviation industry experienced during the global financial crisis, over a decade ago, IATA said.

“Airlines are doing their best to stay afloat as they perform the vital task of linking the world’s economies, As governments look to stimulus measures, the airline industry will need consideration for relief on taxes, charges and slot allocation. These are extraordinary times.”

IATA Director General Alexandre de Juniac

IATA have said that Airlines in the Asia Pacific region are expected to be hit the hardest, with an estimated loss of about $57 billion in passenger revenues this year. European carriers could see a combined loss of $44 billion, while for Canada and the U.S. the figure could reach $21 billion.

In this article, we list the 10 most affected airlines in the world by COVID-19. The rank is not listed in exact order, as the losses are currently impossible to estimate.

China Southern

China is no doubt the most affected region by the coronavirus. China Southern Airlines, the largest airline outside the US by fleet size, is no exception. An estimated 70% of all flights have been cancelled.

China Southern’s most popular route, Guangzhou to Beijing, was trimmed from 15 daily round trips down to only 2.

Moreover, their fleet of 5 Airbus A380s have all been grounded since February.

All routes to the United States are suspended except Shenyang – Los Angeles.

However, as the coronavirus outbreak has been under control in China, China Southern is currently restoring flights. In mid-March, over 1000 daily flights are scheduled.

Airlines Affected by COVID-19
China Southern

China Eastern

Following China Southern is the China Eastern Group, which is based at two airports in Shanghai.

China Eastern’s flights have also been cancelled by about 70%. One of its lounges in the Shanghai Hongqiao Airport has been closed.

It’s long-haul flights from Shanghai Pudong to Chicago Ohare and Honolulu have both been suspended.

From March, 5 international routes and 163 domestic routes were restored.

Airlines Affected by COVID-19
China Eastern

Hainan Airlines

The fourth-largest airline in China, Hainan Airlines, was probably the most unfortunate. In the past few years, Hainan Airlines has been suffering from a tight cash flow.

The coronavirus has rocked them to the core. There were rumours saying that the other three airlines in China would take over Hainan.

However, as a result, the Hainan Government stepped in and has helped pay off some of the airlines’ debt.

Back in February, Hainan Airlines suspended all international flights.

Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon currently have 120 aircraft idling on the ground at any given time, which accounts for more than half of their fleet.

In addition, the group has cut more than three-quarters of their weekly flights in March. Around 1,470 weekly flights were originally scheduled for this month, but this has now been trimmed down by more than 1,120 flights.

In the past couple of weeks, Cathay Pacific has asked their 27,000 employees to take 3 weeks unpaid leave; they have also temporarily closed three of their premium lounges at Hong Kong International Airport.

Cathay JFK YVR last flight
Cathay Pacific

Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines has announced that they have temporarily suspended over 3,000 flights, from February until the end of May.

Singapore Airlines have announced cancellations of 3,000 flights (both Singapore Airlines and SilkAir) across their global network, as the on-going coronavirus epidemic continues to hit Asia’s travel demand.

In the expanded flight cancellation, a total of 70 destinations have been affected.

All Nippon Airways (ANA) & Japan Airlines

Airlines based in Japan have been cancelling more and more flights recently. As the coronavirus has continued, flights to other Asian countries have been cancelled; destinations such as South Korea and Thailand being the most affected.

ANA Route Expansion

Now, as the virus spread is also happening in Japan, domestic flights are also being cancelled due to lower demand.

ANA is cancelling 180 domestic flights from 9th – 12th March and 522 from 13th – 19th March.

Japan Airlines is canceling 42 domestic flights from 9th – 12th March and 684 from 13th – 19th March.

a large white airplane on a runway
Japan Airlines

Korean Air & Asiana

With nearly 100 countries restricting passengers from South Korea, both Korean airlines are cancelling a massive amount of flights.

Below are the suspended routes for Korean Air. Asiana Airlines is also in a similar situation.

AmericaIncheon – Honolulu, Incheon – San Francisco, Incheon – Boston, Incheon – New York, Incheon – Chicago, Incheon – Washington, Incheon – Dallas, Incheon – Atlanta, Incheon – Las Vegas, Incheon – Los Angeles, Incheon – Seattle, Incheon – Vancouver, Incheon – Toronto
EuropeIncheon – Tel Aviv, Incheon – Milan, Incheon – Barcelona, Incheon – Madrid, Incheon – Vienna, Incheon – Zagreb, Incheon – Istanbul, Incheon – Zurich, Incheon – London, Incheon – Prague, Incheon – Frankfurt, Incheon – Rome
Middle AsiaIncheon – Dubai
CISIncheon – Moscow, Incheon – Vladivostok, Incheon – Tashkent
Southeast AsiaIncheon – Bangkok, Busan – Bangkok, Incheon – Chiang Mai, Incheon – Phuket, Incheon – Nha Trang, Incheon – Da Nang, Busan – Da Nang, Incheon – Phu Quoc, Incheon – Dalat, Incheon – Hanoi, Incheon – Ho Chi Minh City, Incheon – Guam, Incheon – Singapore, Incheon – Cebu, Incheon – Clark/Angeles City, Incheon – Phnom Penh, Incheon – Siem Reap, Incheon – Yangon, Incheon – Kuala Lumpur, Incheon – Jakarta, Incheon – Palau, Incheon – Denpasar Bali, Incheon – Kathmandu, Incheon – Delhi, Incheon – Mumbai, Incheon-Colombo/Male(Maldives)
OceaniaIncheon – Sydney, Incheon – Brisbane, Incheon – Auckland
Northeast AsiaIncheon – Ulaanbaatar, Incheon – Wuhan, Incheon – Zhangjiajie, Incheon – Changsha, Incheon – Kunming, Incheon – Qingdao, Busan – Beijing, Busan – Nanjing, Incheon – Huangshan, Jeju – Beijing, Incheon – Beijing, Gimpo – Beijing, Incheon – Shanghai/Pudong, Incheon – Shenzhen, Incheon – Shenyang, Incheon – Hefei, Incheon – Hangzhou, Incheon – Nanjing, Incheon – Xiamen, Incheon – Jinan, Incheon – Tianjin, Incheon – Weihai, Incheon – Xi’an, Incheon – Zhengzhou, Busan – Shanghai/Pudong, Busan – Qingdao, Busan – Taipei, Incheon – Hong Kong, Incheon – Taipei, Incheon – Dalian, Incheon – Yanji, Incheon – Guangzhou, Incheon – Mudanjiang, Busan – Narita, Busan – Nagoya, Busan – Fukuoka, Incheon – Okinawa, Incheon – Aomori, Incheon – Niigata, Incheon – Komatsu, Incheon – Kagoshima, Incheon – Okayama, Gimpo – Haneda, Gimpo – Osaka, Incheon – Osaka, Incheon – Fukuoka, Incheon – Nagoya, Incheon – Sapporo, Incheon – Narita, Incheon – Haneda

Almost all flights are cancelled, even those long-haul ones to North America, Europe and Oceania.

There are already more than 7,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in South Korea. Multiple Korean flight attendants have also been confirmed to have the disease.

a group of women standing in front of a large airplane
Korean Air


With almost 10,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Europe, European airlines were also hit hard.

Lufthansa Group decided to reduce their flight capacity by up to 50% in the coming weeks. These capacity adjustments apply to all passenger airlines in the Lufthansa Group, including Lufthansa, SWISS, Brussels and Austrian.

In addition, the entire Airbus A380 fleet (14 aircraft) will be temporarily taken out of service in Frankfurt and Munich.


One airline with a long history of bailouts that could suffer potential long-term effects is Alitalia, where a nationwide lockdown was instituted this week due to the virus’s rapid spread there.

It remains to be seen whether the Italian government will choose to and be able to offer any financial aid to Alitalia. Alitalia has continually struggled to stay afloat, relying on frequent bailouts from the government to avoid going belly up. In December 2019, Italy’s transportation minister gave Alitalia a 400 million euro cash infusion and vowed not to pour any more taxpayer money into the airline.

a large airplane taking off

British Airways

British Airways has announced plans to cancel over 400 flights in March. Even their London-New York flagship flights are being cancelled.

Other flights include 342 short-haul from London-Heathrow, 52 from London-City Airport to Germany and Italy and 14 from Gatwick serving cities in Italy, France and Albania.

The other major airline in the UK, Virgin Atlantic, has decided to speed up the retirement of their old Airbus A340 fleet. The retirement date moved from June to March.

Airlines Waive Change Fees
British Airways

United Airlines

With almost 500 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States, US airlines were also impacted hard.

As the largest US carrier in the Asia-Pacific market, United Airlines is no doubt the worst affected.

United will cut flights in the United States and Canada by 10% and other international flights by a total of 20% in April, from their original international schedule.

United is looking at similar domestic and international cuts in May.

The airline is also introducing a new refund policy. Involuntary refunds are no longer allowed, for schedule changes that result in a change to the departure time of less than 25 hours.