The crisis engulfing the aviation industry deepened after some of the world’s biggest international carriers announced drastic measures to cope with the coronavirus outbreak, with giants Emirates, Etihad and Singapore Airlines among the latest to slash flights.
Emirates, one of the world’s biggest international airlines, will ground its entire passenger fleet from Wednesday March 25 2020 and cut staff wages by as much as half because of the coronavirus and its impact on travel demand.
The state-owned Dubai carrier had already announced the suspension of nearly 70% of its network, asked staff to go on unpaid leave and frozen recruitment as the industry faces one of its biggest ever challenges.
“As a global network airline, we find ourselves in a situation where we cannot viably operate passenger services until countries reopen their borders and travel confidence returns,” Emirates Group chairman and chief executive Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum said in a statement.
The Dubai-based airline will stop passenger flights by Wednesday and did not say when they would resume, though cargo flights will continue.
Meanwhile, Etihad Airways has announced that it will also temporarily suspend all regular flight operations at its hub in Abu Dhabi, following a directive by the government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The suspension is set to start on March 26 and would initially last 14 days. The UAE’s national carrier stated that Cargo and evacuation or repatriation flights are exempted.
The UAE’s Crisis and Disaster Management Authority and the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) made the decision to prohibit all inbound, outbound as well as transfer flights in the Middle Eastern country to prevent the spread of Coronavirus.
Etihad says it will announce a resumption of its flight services when these restrictions are lifted.
Singapore Airlines said it is cutting 96% of its capacity through April, mirroring an announcement by Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways on last week.
Airlines across the globe, estimated to be facing more than $100bn in lost revenue this year, are being forced to make unprecedented groundings and furloughing staff. Though large carriers should have adequate liquidity to ride out the crisis through June, smaller and less liquid operators may collapse without more support from shareholders and governments, according to Moody’s Investors Service.