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A KLM A330-300 touching down in Amsterdam (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Fabian Behr)

Airlines Further Adjust Flight Programs Following COVID-19

Airlines across the world are continuing to downsize their flying program in response to the drop in demand, following the outbreak of COVID-19 as it sweeps across the world.

Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific has been battling the effects of the virus since the outbreak back in December no thanks to its geographical location and reliance on the Chinese market.

Today, Cathay Pacific and its regional subsidiary, Cathay Dragon, have around 120 aircraft parked up resulting in half the fleet stationary. As a result, the airline has reduced its weekly flying program down from around 1,400 flights to only 350 for March.

25,000 Cathay employees have been put on unpaid leave as the airline battles to keep its finances in order during the difficult period.

British Airways has decided to withdraw a number of flights as the flag carrier attempts to optimize its flying program in response to the virus spreading within Europe and across to the United States. In total, the airline has initially canceled 400 flights between March 16 and March 28.

The majority of those canceled are from the short-haul network out of BA’s Heathrow, Gatwick and London City hubs . The airline has also chopped one of the several daily JFK flights in response to the drop in demand.

Europe’s largest low-cost carrier Ryanair has announced it will cut 25 per cent of flights in and out of Italy from March 17 to April 8. Following the rise in cases in Northern Italy the airline has seen a “notable drop in forward bookings towards the end of March, into early April,” Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary said.

The boss of the Irish carrier said: “Our focus at this time is on minimizing any risk to our people and our passengers.”

German flag carrier Lufthansa has announced it will extend the duration of flight cancelations on routes to mainland China into its summer schedule. It too will also cut services within Europe by around 25 percent.

The Netherlands flag carrier KLM has also extended the cancelation its flights to Chinese destinations Chengdu, Hangzhou, and Xiamen. The airline intends to resume flights to Beijing and Shanghai in April.

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