Coronavirus outbreak could cost airlines $179b

The International Air Transport Association says the virus outbreak that began in China could cost airlines as much as NZ$179 billion in lost revenue due to the collapse of air travel.

Representatives of the airline industry group said Thursday after a working meeting in Singapore that the industry urgently needs help from governments in waiving some requirements, taxes and fees to alleviate the burden on struggling carriers.

“The industry remains very fragile,” Brian Pearce, the IATA’s chief economist, told reporters. “There are lots of airlines that have got relatively narrow profit margins and lots of debt and this could send some into a very difficult situation.”

The British regional airline Flybe stopped flying as of Thursday, done in by longstanding financial troubles and the impact of the worldwide blow to travel from the outbreak.

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