British Airways, Ryanair, and EasyJet have cancelled hundreds of flights amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
The news comes as the number of infected people around the world topped 90,000. More than 3,000 have now died from the disease. In Italy, Europe’s worst hit country, there are almost 2,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19.
Fears around the global outbreak have affected travel companies, many of which have reported significant falls in demand. As a result, hundreds of flights have been cancelled or rescheduled.
Which British Airway flights are impacted?
BA has cancelled dozens of its flights between Heathrow airport and destinations in:
ItalyFranceAustriaBelgiumGermanyIrelandSwitzerlandJFK airport in New York
They have also cancelled flights to and from Gatwick airport and Italy, France, and Albania, and connection flights to Germany and Italy from London City airport.
Willie Walsh, the boss of IAG which owns BA, said in February that there had been "a significant fall-off in demand in Italy".
Which Ryanair flights are impacted?
Ryanair has reduced its short-haul flight schedule by almost a quarter over the next three weeks, blaming a “significant drop in bookings” for the decision.
The company did not say how many passengers would be impacted, but said most flights were to destinations in Italy, where the government is struggling to contain Europe’s largest Covid-19 outbreak.
Ryanair boss, Michael O’Leary said, “Our focus at this time is on minimising any risk to our people and our passengers.
“While we are heavily booked over the next two weeks, there has been a notable drop in forward bookings towards the end of Mar, into early April.
“It makes sense to selectively prune our schedule to and from those airports where travel has been most affected by the Covid-19 outbreak.
“This is a time for calm. We will make sensible cuts to our schedules over the coming weeks to reflect weaker bookings, and changing travel patterns. All affected customers will be advised of any schedule changes at least 14 days in advance.”
Which EasyJet flights are impacted?
EasyJet has announced a raft of cancellations to flights in and out of their North Italian destinations.
In a statement, the company said, “We have seen a significant softening of demand [in Italy, and] some slower demand across our other European markets.
“As a result we will be making decisions to cancel some flights, particularly those into and out of Italy, while continuing to monitor the situation and adapting our flying programme to support demand.
“Our procedures for dealing with communicable diseases are similar to those developed during the SARS epidemic and other global health emergencies.”
It warned investors that it was “too early to determine” how damaging the coronavirus outbreak would be to the company’s profits this year.
It said it was planning to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 by cutting costs, including:
Budget cuts administrative areasRecruitment, promotion, and pay freezesOffering unpaid leave and halting non-mandatory trainingAircraft reallocation
What is coronavirus?COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can affect lungs and airways. It is caused by a virus called coronavirus.
What caused coronavirus?The outbreak started in Wuhan in China in December 2019 and it is thought that the virus, like others of its kind, has come from animals.
How is it spread?As this is such a new illness, experts still aren’t sure how it is spread. But.similar viruses are spread in cough droplets. Therefore covering your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing, and disposing of used tissues straight away is advised. Viruses like coronavirus cannot live outside the body for very long.
What are the symptoms?The NHS states that the symptoms are: a dry cough, high temperature and shortness of breath - but these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness. Look out for flu-like symptoms, such as aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose and a sore throat. It’s important to remember that some people may become infected but won’t develop any symptoms or feel unwell.
What precautions can be taken?Washing your hands with soap and water thoroughly. The NHS also advises to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze; put used tissues in the bin immediately and try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell. Also avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth unless your hands are clean.
Should I avoid public places?Most people who feel well can continue to go to work, school and public places and should only stay at home and self isolate if advised by a medical professional or the coronavirus service.
What should I do if I feel unwell?Don’t go to your GP but instead call NHS 111 or look online at the coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help and what to do next.
When to call NHS 111NHS 111 should be used if you feel unwell with coronavirus symptoms, have been in a country with a high risk of coronavirus in the last 14 days or if you have been in close contact with someone with the virus.
Sources: World Health Organisation and NHS