British Airways has cut further flights from its schedule amid ongoing concern with the growing coronavirus outbreak in Asia and Europe. The cancellations come as demand to travel has fallen sharply in the past month or so.
Almost globally the demand for flights has fallen as a result of coronavirus. The virus initially broke out in Wuhan, however, it has since spread to other countries with over 1,600 now affected in Italy alone. Meanwhile, globally at the time of writing there were almost 90,000 cases confirmed across the globe according to the World Health Organization.
“Book With Confidence” promise
Britain’s flag carrier today launched a “book with confidence” promise for passengers who make flight bookings over the next two weeks. The airline has told that passengers who do make a booking during these dates will be able to change their flights without the fear of a change fee.
According to the airline’s Chief Commercial Officer, this policy would allow passengers to have added confidence when booking flights. Some passengers may be putting off making a booking in case they don’t wish to travel. However, with this temporary policy, the airline may attract bookings it may have otherwise missed.
Capacity also slashed
British Airways has additionally cut capacity on a number of routes, both short- and long-haul. The airline first began to cut flights to China back in January, however, now other routes are starting to follow suit. The most recent batch of flight cancellations covers a period ranging from the 16th to the 28th of March.
Unsurprisingly, a number of flights to Italy are included in the figure. Additionally, capacity has been reduced to most major countries served by British Airways. This shows that the drop in demand for travel may not be exclusively tied to locations where the coronavirus outbreak has taken hold.
Finally, the airline has cut a small number of flights to the United States. However, this accounts for around one flight per day on a major route. As a result, the impact on travelers is likely to be minimal.
Speaking to Simple Flying, a British Airways spokesperson said:
“To match reduced demand due to the continuing coronavirus issue, we are merging a number of flights between March 16 and March 28. We will be contacting customers on cancelled flights so we can discuss their travel options, including rebooking onto other carriers where possible, full refunds or booking with BA for a later date of travel.”
As the virus continues to spread, and the situation evolves, it is possible that further flights could be canceled. The British flag carrier could also extend its “book with confidence” program.
Have you been affected by British Airways flight cancellations? Has the book with confidence scheme prompted you to book flights? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.