One day can feel like a whole year during this coronavirus pandemic. Airlines around the world are under enormous pressure while passengers are nervously fretting over their flights. Here’s a roundup of what happened in aviation on March 17, 2020, amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Early in the day, Simple Flying reported that Qantas would ground a majority of its international fleet with a 90% slash in its international capacity. This came amid demand that, in the words of CEO Alan Joyce, “evaporated.” And, with Australia’s 14-day isolation requirement for international arrivals, it does not look like the situation at Qantas will improve much anytime soon.
US airlines are now seeking aid
After years of record profits (and profit sharing), airlines in the United States are now facing dire circumstances due to a major slump in demand. Airlines for America, a major group representing airlines in the US, now announced that it was seeking USD$50 billion to help airlines. United, American, and Delta are some of the hardest-hit airlines. Thanks to travel restrictions and a severe drop in domestic demand, the situation is not looking so rosy in the US.
It is unclear exactly when demand will return to normal. However, for now, airlines are taking a number of different measures. This includes parking planes and sending staff on voluntary or involuntary unpaid leave.
British Airways flies 777 relief flights
Three Boeing 777 aircraft flew from London to Havana. These 777s were dispatched to help repatriate UK citizens stuck onboard a cruise ship. This operation is in conjunction with the UK government. Interestingly enough, these are the first British Airways 777s in nearly 20 years to fly to Havana.
Airbus suspends production
Four the next four days, Airbus is suspending the production of aircraft in France and Spain in order to “implement stringent health and safety conditions.”
Brussels Airlines will suspend flights
Brussels Airlines will suspend flights from March 21st through April 19th. This follows news from Austrian Airlines suspending flights from this week. Much like every other airline in Europe, Brussels Airlines is seeing a major reduction in demand for travel.
WestJet to suspend international flights
For 30 days, from March 22nd at 11:59PM MDT, WestJet will suspend international and transborder flights for 30 days. This comes after Canada announced major travel restrictions for a majority of foreign nationals.
LATAM, Aeromexico, and Interjet face major cuts
In South America, LATAM is cutting 90% of its international flights. This comes are more and more countries institute travel restrictions on foreign nationals to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Aeromexico and Interjet, Mexican airlines, are cutting 40% of their operations.
EU travel ban
And, the European Union is preparing a travel ban for 30 days. While EU nationals will still be able to move freely– barring areas under lockdown. However, UK nationals are exempted.
Each day can feel like a year with more and more restrictions, cancellations, and travel uncertainty. Keep checking back at Simple Flying for updates as the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc on airline operations.
What do you think was the most significant story from the coronavirus outbreak on aviation on March 17th? Let us know in the comments!