Major airlines and holiday companies are scrambling to implement emergency plans as they react to the coronavirus outbreak and the impact on their businesses.
The holiday operator TUI has said it is cancelling the “vast majority” of its deals until further notice, which includes a huge array of package holidays, cruises and hotel bookings.
“In this rapidly changing environment the safety and welfare of our guests and employees worldwide remains of paramount importance and thus TUI Group has decided, in line with government guidelines, to suspend the vast majority of all travel operations,” a statement from the group explained.
Meanwhile, easyJet has said that it intends to ground most of its fleet of planes in response to the unfolding crisis but made clear it intends to operate a limited number of rescue flights in the coming days to repatriate passengers.
“European aviation faces a precarious future and it is clear that coordinated government backing will be required to ensure the industry survives and is able to continue to operate when the crisis is over,” said easyJet’s chief executive Johan Lundgren.
Ryanair is also anticipating having to ground most of its planes in the coming days as countries across Europe and elsewhere impose severe travel restrictions.
The airline’s chief executive Michael O’Leary noted that the travel restrictions have happened with almost no notice but said his business is “resilient” and has “substantial cash liquidity”.
Virgin Atlantic has dramatically reduced the number of flights it operates worldwide, with demand from passengers having slumped very sharply in recent days.
The airline says that by March 26, 80 per cent of its daily flights will no longer be operational, with its London to Newark route having already been stopped.
Virgin Atlantic has said it will be asking its staff to take up to eight weeks of unpaid leave over the course of the next three months to help soften the financial blow the airline is in the process of suffering.
The suggestion is that by drastically reducing costs, the company might be able to avoid initiating job losses that might otherwise be unavoidable.