Airline forced to park half its fleet amid coronavirus global outbreak

It looks like the boneyard holding the grounded Boeing Max 8 aircraft.

But don’t be fooled, because this yard full of around 120 planes sitting on the tarmac is just a glimpse of what is yet to come for the aviation industry.

As coronavirus sweeps the world, with around 92,000 cases confirmed and more than 3000 death globally, airlines are feeling the pinch as more and more holiday-makers cancel their trips abroad.

The outbreak poses a serious threat to the sector, with the industry bracing to battle a possible multimillion-dollar hit in revenue losses.

One airline in particular, Cathay Pacific, which is Hong Kong’s flagship airline, said the concerns around travel had become so widespread – they are keeping around 120 planes out of the sky at any one time.

RELATED: New case in Victoria, Sydney hospital staff quarantined

The holding yard has more and more planes added to in Hong Kong.Source:Supplied

RELATED: Why Australia is unable to stop the spread of coronavirus

Last week, Cathay said 75 per cent of staff, or 25,000 employees of the group, would take unpaid leave because of lack of flights booked.

“We are continuously assessing our fleet and aircraft deployment in order to best align capacity with market demand,” a spokeswoman for the airline told the South China Morning Post, declining to address the number of parked planes.

However, it is understood that for the month of March, the airline has slashed a scheduled 1470 flights per week for Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon. That number has now been cut by more than 1120.

Cathay Pacific’s grounding of unused aircraft is expected to continue, with reports the holding yard has been filled with more than 100 planes for the past two weeks because of the virus outbreak.

The crisis faced by Cathay Pacific is being replicated globally as major airlines are forced to implement emergency cost saving measures by cutting flights across the board.

In February, Virgin Australia announced they’d be axing flights to Hong Kong entirely amid weak demand, while Silk Air – the regional wing of Singapore Airlines – will indefinitely suspend operations to Hiroshima from March 27, 2020 due to a lack of bookings, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 outbreak.

According to SCMP, the Lufthansa Group, which has grounded 23 long-haul aircraft since the outbreak, said it would cut short and medium-haul flights by a quarter as more cases rose in Europe.

Cathay Pacific has been forced to cancel hundreds of their flights amid the coronavirus outbreak.Source:Supplied

In the UK, British Airways and Ryanair announced more flight cuts on Monday, with BA dropping to just 432 flights between March 16 and March 28.

Ryanair, Europe’s biggest short haul carrier, has also been forced to cut hundreds of services, including reducing routes to Italy by cutting a quarter of its flights to and from the country between March 17 and April 8.

“The virus is having a more global impact. The cancellation of numerous conferences and events along with the halting of non essential corporate travel have exacerbated this demand decrease,” said aviation expert David Yu, a finance professor at New York University Shanghai to SCMP.

“These trends will be especially difficult for airlines as the elongation of the virus will affect the coming high summer season for travel.”

People arriving and wearing mask at the airport. Picture: Attila Csaszar/AAPSource:News Corp Australia

Mid-February, Hong Kong Airlines was forced to start sacking staff, just 24-hours after slashing in-flight services to a bare minimum. The 170 job losses were reportedly air host positions.

In addition, the airline said at least 400 of its 3500 staff would be made redundant, while – like Cathay Pacific – all other staff would be required to take unpaid leave between mid-February until the end of June.

It’s a blow that’s expected to cost the industry billions. In 2001, when airlines took a hit following the 9/11 terror attacks, The Guardian reports it took five years for the industry return to profit after losing more than $US40 billion.

trending in travel

Source: Read Full Article