United Airlines boss warns domestic and transatlantic flights will be cut after coronavirus fears leave planes empty of passengers
- In an email to employees on Sunday, Oscar Munoz said the airline had been hit by sagging demand for flights as passengers avoid travel amid coronavirus fears
- United already cut flights to Asia, mainland China and Hong Kong
- On Friday, it then sharply slashed flights to Japan and South Korea
- Short-term demand for its trans-Pacific routes was also down by 75%
- This marks the latest blow for the airline industry as industry analysts warned that the impact of coronavirus on the airline industry was ‘worse than 9/11’
- Coronavirus fears have intensified as the US recorded its first two deaths
United Airlines boss Oscar Munoz has said that the US airline will likely need to cut more flights as fears over the rapid spread of coronavirus are leaving planes empty.
In an email sent to employees late on Sunday, Munoz said the airline had been hit by sagging demand for flights, as passengers avoid travel due to the coronavirus outbreak.
‘We are strategically managing our Atlantic and domestic service, mindful of travel directives from the federal government, fluctuating demand and of course, the advice of public health experts,’ the chief executive wrote.
‘Based on current trends, it is likely that additional schedule reductions will be necessary.’
United Airlines boss Oscar Munoz (pictured) sent an email to employees late on Sunday saying the airline will likely need to cut more flights as it had been hit by sagging demand for flights, as passengers avoid travel due to the coronavirus outbreak
United had already cut flights to Asia and suspended services to mainland China and Hong Kong through April 30 and on Friday slashed flights to Japan and South Korea
United had already cut flights to Asia and suspended services to mainland China and Hong Kong through April 30.
On Friday, it then sharply slashed flights to Japan and South Korea.
Munoz did not specify which routes would next face the chop.
However, the Chicago-based company revealed last Monday that short-term demand for its trans-Pacific routes was down by 75% – excluding China where demand has almost disappeared.
Among US airlines, United has the biggest international exposure, drawing about 40 percent of its revenues from overseas flights.
The Chicago-based company revealed last Monday that short-term demand for its trans-Pacific routes was down by 75% – excluding China where demand has almost disappeared
On Friday, United canceled its investor day that was set for March 5, saying it is not ‘practical to expect that it can have a productive conversation focused on its long-term strategy next week.’
That same day, it ended the day down 5.2 percent on Friday and down more than 22 percent over the last week.
This marks the latest blow for the industry as industry analysts warned last week that the global coronavirus outbreak had left airlines some of the hardest hit.
The reduction in global airline capacity, measured by how many seats remain grounded, is now greater than after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, according to the industry group IATA.
After 9/11, airline revenue dropped an estimated $19.6 billion in 2002 dollars.
The coronavirus crisis could cost the industry an estimated $29.3 billion in lost revenue for 2020, analysts said on Friday.
This marks the latest blow for the industry as industry analysts warned last week that the global coronavirus outbreak had left airlines some of the hardest hit. A flight attendant from Denver with Frontier Airlines posted this photo of an empty plane on Wednesday as passengers avoid flying amid the global virus outbreak
A traveler posted this picture from an empty flight on Tuesday
They said countries with confirmed virus cases in excess of 90 — China, Italy, Iran, Japan, Singapore and South Korea — represent 25 per cent of global airline passenger numbers and 20 per cent of global passenger revenues.
‘Back after 9/11 at the end of 2001, it really took about nine months before we saw the industry recover from the impact of the events,’ said Wall Street Journal aviation correspondent Benjamin Katz.
‘Now, with the coronavirus, it’s a very different situation and it’s difficult to give an assessment, but analysts are expecting with the coronavirus this could actually last quite a bit longer,’ he continued.
With the extent of the crisis still unknown, experts cautioned that the full impact on airlines remains to be seen.
‘If we look back in ten years time, will this be seen as a blip or a game changer?’ IBA Aviation Consultancy CEO Phil Seymour told the Journal.
Several other airlines have been forced to cancel flights as the spread of coronavirus ramps up across the globe.
Last week, Delta cut its South Korea flights in half, citing the outbreak and plummeting demand.
Airlines have been forced to cancel flights as the spread of coronavirus ramps up across the globe. Last week, Delta cut its South Korea flights in half, citing the outbreak and plummeting demand
Los Angeles International airport looks eerily quiet on February 27 as workers and passengers alike continue to take perecautionary measures against the spread of the virus
South Korean soldiers wear protective gear spray disinfectant as part of preventive measures against the spread of coronavirus on March 2.
Airlines are even feeling the squeeze on domestic US flights as companies reconsider the need for business travel and conferences.
On Friday, Amazon deferred all non-essential travel, within the US and beyond, and Google set new restrictions for travel to South Korea and other places, as corporations moved to protect their employees from the spread of coronavirus.
Canada’s TD Bank Group told Reuters it was suspending all non-essential business travel to China, Iran, Italy, Japan, South Korea and Singapore.
Its peer Bank of Nova Scotia has also reportedly halted non-essential travel.
JetBlue which flies in the United States, the Caribbean and Latin America, became the first US airline to offer waivers for all travel on Wednesday, announcing it would suspend change and cancellation fees for new flight bookings between February 27 and March 11 this year.
Facebook also said it would cancel its annual developer conference in May because of the virus.
Coronavirus fears have intensified in recent days as the US has recorded its first two deaths from the disease and more than 89,000 people have been infected worldwide.
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