Coronavirus Prompts Cathay Pacific To Make Huge Route Cuts

The deadly coronavirus outbreak has forced Cathay Pacific to slash routes in a bid to match the slump in demand. Routes to destinations including London Gatwick, Washington DC and Perth have all been closed until at least the 28th March.

Cathay has been forced to cut 30% of its international routes. Photo; Getty

Cathay’s coronavirus cancellations

Hundreds more flights are set to be canceled as airlines work to fight the spread of the deadline coronavirus. Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific is the latest to ax its routes, announcing today multiple route suspensions for an extended period.

The South China Morning Post reports that the carrier has suspended routes to London Gatwick, Rome, Male, Newark, Davao, Jeju, Washington DC, Clark and Taichung. All routes to cities in mainland China, with the exceptions of Beijing, Shanghai, Xiamen and Chengdu are also facing suspension.

Cathay Pacific A330
Worries about the virus have led to a drop in demand. Photo: Cathay

The company has said that the suspensions have been made “in view of the novel coronavirus outbreak and the subsequent drop in demand.” The suspensions are expected to last until March 28th.

A huge loss for Cathay

These route cuts represent a massive loss of capacity for Cathay. Overall, its international routes and seats will be down an estimated 30%, while domestic China flights are being cut by 90%. Whereas some airlines have taken some time to implement route suspensions, Cathay has already filed for these, and many are being implemented pretty rapidly.

Routesonline posted the most recent schedule update, listing services closed for reservation. Here’s the full breakdown of affected services:

  • Adelaide: Service reduced from four weekly to two weekly from March 4th to 28th.
  • Auckland: Service reduced to one per day or canceled entirely on some days from February 22nd.
  • Barcelona: Reduced from four weekly to two weekly services from 1st
  • Brussels: Reduced to one of four weekly services from 1st
  • Cape Town: Closed for reservations from 17th
  • Dubai: One of two daily flights is closed for reservation from 17th
  • London Gatwick: Closed for reservations from 17th
  • Los Angeles: Reduced to just one daily flight from three from the 12th
  • Manchester: Closed for reservation from 24th
  • Melbourne: Service reduced from three daily flights to one, or on some dates two, from 10th
  • Milan Malpensa: Closed for reservations until 28th
  • Newark: Closed for reservations from 17th
  • Perth: Closed for reservations from 1st
  • Rome: Closed for reservations until 27th
  • Sydney: Service reduced to three of four daily flights from 18th
  • Tel Aviv: Three of its seven weekly flights are only showing booking in premium cabins from 1st
  • Toronto: Closed for reservation from 1st
  • Vancouver: Closed for reservation from 18th

As well as these latest route cancellations, Cathay has taken the decision to end its fifth freedom flight between New York and Vancouver earlier than expected. Earlier this week, it asked its entire workforce to take three weeks of unpaid leave, in a bid to rein in its spiraling costs.

Cathay Pacific
Cathay staff have been asked to take three weeks unpaid leave. Photo: Cathay Pacific

Can Cathay recover?

Poor Cathay Pacific has had a difficult 12 months. The carrier was already struggling with the fallout from the Hong Kong protests and had been making route adjustments and trimming staff bonuses in a big to stay profitable. Now, with the coronavirus beginning to bite, the airline faces yet another challenge to its financial health, as passengers shun trips to the far east out of an abundance of caution.

Undoubtedly, the world hoped that the coronavirus would go away as quickly as it popped up. However, with Cathay canceling flights until at least the end of March, and other airlines doing the same, it seems the impact from this deadly virus still has a way to play out yet.

The schedule information contained within this article was sourced from Routesonline.