Norwegian Air said it will lay off staff and cut around 3,000 flights as the spread of the new coronavirus outbreak sends shockwaves across the travel industry. 

"The company has also put several other measures in place, including temporary layoffs of a significant share of its workforce," the budget carrier said in a statement today. 

It said the 3,000 flights to be cut between mid-March and mid-June correspond to around 15% of its capacity. 


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Ryanair and Aer Lingus to halt flights to and from Italy

 


Norwegian earlier announced it had temporarily halted all flights to and from Italy because of the coronavirus outbreak.

"This is a critical time for the aviation industry, including us at Norwegian," CEO Jacob Schram said. 

"We encourage the authorities to immediately implement measures to imminently reduce the financial burden on airlines in order to protect crucial infrastructure and jobs," the CEO added. 

The cancellations add to an already difficult financial situation at Norwegian, which last week scrapped its 2020 outlook and has lost 70% of its market value this year.

"It will affect the entire network and more details will be shared as soon as they are ready to be implemented," Norwegian said. 

Britain's Flybe collapsed on March 5 as bookings faltered amid the virus outbreak, and a further shakeout in the industry is seen as likely, industry experts have warned. 

A pioneer in low-cost transatlantic travel, Norwegian in recent years launched flights from the Italian capital to major US cities such as Los Angeles and Boston, as well as New York. 

On March 5, as the coronavirus outbreak escalated, the company said it would cancel 22 flights between Europe and the United States from March 28 to May 5. 

Norwegian last week also cancelled flights to and from the worst affected areas of northern Italy.

Meanwhile, British Airways has today cancelled all fights to and from Italy after the country was put on lockdown until next month to tackle coronavirus, it said. 

"In light of the Italian government's announcement and the UK government's official travel advice, we have contacted all customers who are due to travel today (10 March)," the airline, owned by IAG, said.

IAG also owns Aer Lingus.

Wizz Air has suspended all flights to Italy and Israel after the two countries announced plans to try to beat Europe's worst outbreak of coronavirus. 

Flights to and from Italian airports will be cancelled from March 10 until April 3 and flights serving Israel's Tel Aviv and Eilat will be suspended from March 12 until March 23, the company said.

Israel will require anyone arriving from overseas to self-quarantine for 14 days as a precaution against the spread of coronavirus, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said yesterday. 

Last week the Central and Eastern Europe-focused airline said it was difficult to predict the extent and duration of the outbreak and its impact on its new financial year, which begins next month. 

EasyJet today cancelled the majority of its flights to and from Milan, Venice and Verona after the whole of Italy was placed under lockdown until next month to tackle coronavirus. 

Customers will have the opportunity to rebook or get a refund, it said. 

According to analysts at Goodbody, EasyJet's Italian domestic exposure is 4% of its network and overall departing seats from Italy is 12% of its network.