The battered airline industry began another round of flight cuts Thursday, this time in response to the Trump administration’s strict new travel restrictions on Europe travel that go into effect late Friday.
American Airlines is suspending service to all destinations in Europe including Paris, Madrid and Frankfurt through early May or June depending on the city, a move that will eliminate 15 daily flights in each direction and reduce its transatlantic capacity by 50 percent in April alone. London and flights to Ireland are excluded.
“With the restrictions placed on travel to and from Europe for the next 30 days, we expect customer demand to significantly decline over the next month,” American CEO Doug Parker and President Robert Isom said in a memo to employees late Thursday. “We are making the following proactive cancellations to minimize disruption to our team and customers.”
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United Airlines is cutting the number of daily transatlantic flights by nearly 50 percent, dropping those flights per day from 63 to 34.
United CEO Oscar Munoz and President Scott Kirby called the coronavirus spread a “fast-moving, ever-changing global crisis” in a memo to employees released by the company late Thursday.
“Just in the last 48 hours, a lot has happened: new travel restrictions between the United States and Europe; the cancellation of large events like St. Patrick’s Day parades and professional sports events; and colleges and universities sending students home early and transitioning to online learning,” the memo said. “Each of these changes has a direct impact on our business.”
Delta is immediately suspending seven flights between the United States and Europe and said further cuts are under evaluation based on demand.
“The economic fallout of this will be broad”
A flurry of flight cuts are expected from U.S. and foreign carriers due to the restrictions, which prohibit foreign nationals from traveling to the United States in the next 30 days and add airport screening measures and a self quarantine for Americans and permanent legal residents returning from Europe.
There are about 550 flights per day carrying about 125,000 travelers between the United States and the Schengen Area of Europe the ban covers, according to the International Air Transport Association.
The region includes 26 countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
The United Kingdom and Ireland are not part of the Schengen Area.
“The economic fallout of this will be broad,” the trade association said in a statement.
These are in addition to a series of previous flight cuts to Italy and several destinations in China this year.
IATA previously estimated that the crisis will cost international airlines as much as $113 billion in revenue but that does not include the new U.S. ban.
The group says flights between the United States and the Europe excluding England and Ireland, brought in $20.6 billion in revenue in 2019.
“This will create enormous cash-flow pressures for airlines. We have already seen Flybe go under. And this latest blow could push others in the same direction,” IATA CEO Alexandre de Juniac said in a statement Thursday.
The new Europe flight cutbacks by airline:
American’s sweeping changes, coming just days after theairline and others announced dramatic flights cuts on international and domestic flights due to plunging demand, will reduce its international summer flights capacity by 34 percent.
American said it will still offer about 20 daily flights to London.
- Suspending flights from Philadelphia and Charlotte, North Carolina, to Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Munich, Madrid and Zurich from March 13 through May 7.
- Suspending flights to Madrid from Miami and Dallas and all flights to Barcelona and Paris from March 19 through May 6.
- Suspending service from Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina to London Heathrow from March 19-May 7 and reducing the number of daily flights between London Heathrow and New York, Dallas and Chicago through May 7.
- Suspending flights from Dallas and Los Angeles to Sao Paulo, Brazil, and flights from Dallas to Santiago, Chile, from March 19 from March 19-June 4.
- Discontinuing flights between Miami and Cordoba, Argentina.
- Most seasonal Europe routes that were due to resume in late March/early April will be delayed to May or June.
United said it will fly its regular Europe schedule through March 20.
After that, it will operate 18 daily flights to and from London and daily flights to Zurich, Brussels, Paris, Amsterdam, Manchester and Edinburgh, and some flights to Frankfurt and Munich.
Travelers whose flights to Europe are canceled will be rebooked, or are eligible for a refund even on non-refundable tickets.
Delta Air Lines said it will suspend seven routes between the US and Europe on Friday.
- Salt Lake City-Amsterdam
- Salt Lake City-Paris
The airline said in an advisory on its website that further flight cut are under evaluation based on travel demand.
Travelers whose flights are canceled are eligible for a refund, even if they’re holding a non-refundable ticket. Other passengers with tickets to or from Europe through May 31 can change or cancel their ticket without paying the usual hefty ticket change fee under a travel waiver Delta issued after Trump’s prime time address Wednesday.
Earlier this week, before the ban was announced, Delta said it was reducing seat capacity to Europe by 15 to 20 percent, along with other significant flight cuts, as it copes with staggering declines in ticket bookings and a surge in passenger cancellations due to coronavirus concerns.
Unlike the recession, which hurt business travel more than vacation travel, the drop in bookings is broad, Delta executives said.
“This clearly is not an economic event,” CEO Ed Bastian said. “This is a fear event probably more akin to 9/11 than what we saw in (the recession) in 2009.”
Lufthansa said it is canceling all but a handful of daily flights between the United States and Europe. The airline said it will suspend flights between the US and Munich and Dusseldorf, Germany, and Geneva, Switzerland.
.What’s remaining for the German carrier and its sister airlines:
- New York-Frankfurt
- New York-Zurich
- Washington, D.C.-Brussels
Norwegian Air, a discount carrier offering flights between several U.S. cities and Europe, on Thursday said it is suspending most of its transatlantic flights as it grounds 40 percent of its long-haul planes and lays off up to 50 percent of its employees.
The airline, which has struggled financially, said it will still offer flights between the United States and London, which isn’t affected by the ban.
- March 13-March 29: Canceling the majority of flights to the United States from Amsterdam, Madrid, Oslo, Stockholm, Barcelona and Paris.
- March 13-May 31: All flights between Rome and the United States canceled.
- March 29-April 30: All flights from Paris, Barcelona, Madrid, Amsterdam, Athens and Oslo to the US canceled.