Heathrow flights cancelled as Coronavirus pandemic takes its toll

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Heathrow Airport, Terminal 5A, passengers in check-in hall, September 2018

A number of global carriers have suspended flights in and out of Heathrow due to the Coronavirus outbreak impacting on worldwide travel.

Qantas is suspending international operations from the end of March until at least the end of May. South African Airways is also halting its flying programme with immediate effect until May 31. Vietnam Airlines have also implemented a temporary cessation of services beginning on March 31. Cathay Pacific will cut 96% of passenger capacity over April & May, although it will still operate a service to Heathrow three times a week.

Zuks Ramasia, SAA’s acting CEO, said: “In support of efforts by government to deal with this pandemic, and in the best interests of our crew, passengers and the public, we have decided to suspend all international flights until 31 May 2020. It is all our responsibility, not just government, to curb further transmission of the virus. In addition, the increasing risks to our crew of contracting the virus including the possibility of being trapped in foreign destinations as a consequence of increasing travel bans cannot be ignored.”

Alan Joyce, CEO of the Qantas Group, said: “The efforts to contain the spread of Coronavirus have led to a huge drop in travel demand, the likes of which we have never seen before. This is having a devastating impact on all airlines.

“We’re in a strong financial position right now, but our wages bill is more than $4 billion a year. With the huge drop in revenue we’re facing, we have to make difficult decisions to guarantee the future of the national carrier.”

Cathay Pacific’s Chief Customer and Commercial Officer Ronald Lam said in a statement: “We need to take difficult but decisive measures as the scale of the challenge facing the global aviation industry is unprecedented.

“We have no choice but to significantly reduce our passenger capacity as travel restrictions are making it increasingly difficult for our customers to travel and demand has dropped drastically.”

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