Ryanair and BA cancel hundreds of flights due to coronavirus outbreak

Edmund Heaphy
Finance and news reporter
A Ryanair aircraft landing at Eindhoven airport in Netherlands. (Nik Oiko/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Ryanair (RYA.L) and British Airways on Monday announced the cancellation of hundreds more flights in response to the continued spread of coronavirus.

In a statement, Ryanair said that it would reduce the number of short-haul flights by up to 25% between 17 March and 8 April, which it said would mainly affect flights to and from Italy.

The low-cost carrier said that it has seen a “significant drop in bookings” as a result of the virus.

“There has also been a significant step up in passenger no-shows on flights, particularly from and within Italy,” the airline said.

British Airways, which is owned by IAG (IAG.L), said it had merged a number of flights between 16 March and 28 March “to match reduced demand due to the continuing coronavirus issue.”

It said it had cancelled some flights between London’s Heathrow Airport and New York’s JFK airport, Italy, France, Austria, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, and Switzerland.

It has also cancelled flights between Gatwick and Italy, France and Albania, as well as flights from London City Airport to and from Germany and Italy.

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“We will be contacting customers on cancelled flights so we can discuss their travel options, including re-booking onto other carriers where possible, full refunds or booking with BA for a later date of travel,” the airline said.

The cancellations come after EasyJet (EZJ.L) last week announced that it was also cancelling some flights as a result of the outbreak, including those to and from Italy. Some staff have been offered unpaid leave, according to the Mirror.

The cancellations came as the director general of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, warned that the “window of opportunity” to contain the coronavirus outbreak was narrowing.

Speaking on Monday afternoon, he noted that the WHO’s message has been to “calm down and do the right thing” in order to tackle the spread of the virus.

“So it is still the same message but in some places we are not seeing the level of response that we expected and that’s why we have been again saying to the world, reminding the world, that the window of opportunity is narrowing and that we have to still do our best to catch up.”