Airlines around the world said they would make more drastic cuts to their flying schedules, shed jobs and seek government aid after countries further tightened border restrictions because of the fast spreading coronavirus.
The owner of British Airways said on Monday that it would cut flying capacity by at least three quarters in April and May, and that its outgoing boss, Willie Walsh, would defer his retirement as the carrier tries to survive the fallout of the virus.
International Consolidated Airlines Group, the parent company that also owns Iberia and Aer Lingus, said it would also ground flights, freeze discretionary spending, reduce working hours and temporarily suspend employment contracts.
United Airlines Holdings Inc, one of the three largest US airlines, booked $1.5 billion less revenue in March than during the same time last year and warned employees that planes could be flying nearly empty into the summer, even after severe flight cuts. United said it would cut corporate officers’ salaries by 50 per cent and reduce flight capacity by about 50 per cent in April and May, with deep capacity cuts also expected into the summer travel period.
“This crisis is moving really quickly,” United Chief Executive Oscar Munoz and President Scott Kirby said in a memo to employees on Sunday.
Things worsened over the weekend as Spain declared a state of emergency, the Trump administration added Britain and Ireland to its list of countries facing travel curbs, and Australia and New Zealand said all travellers would have to self-isolate for 14 days.