IAG Cuts schedule by 75%. Virgin Atlantic cuts by 80%. SAS, LOT and Austrian to suspend operations completely.

The impact to airlines of COVID-19 goes from bad to worse.

IAG

IAG is the parent company of British Airways, Iberia, Vueling, Aer Lingus and LEVEL. They announced this morning, before the markets opened, that they would be cutting at least 75% of their schedule over the coming days. The details of what will be cut and when hasn’t yet been made public, but I’ll update the blog once it’s confirmed.

Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic announced this lunchtime that they would be halting 80% of flights and grounding 75% of their fleet. Their London to Newark route, which was of course their first ever flight and still carries the VS1/VS2 flight numbers, will be permanently ended. Worryingly for some of the wonderful people there, staff will be required to take unpaid leave.

SAS

SAS Scandinavian announced that they would essentially be shutting down their airline until demand starts to pick up.

LOT Polish Airlines

LOT yesterday confirmed that due to the Polish government suspending flights from Warsaw, they would also be shutting down completely until 28th March.

Austrian Airlines

Austrian Airlines are part of the Lufthansa Group (Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian, Brussels Airlines and Eurowings), and announced a few minutes ago that Austrian would be suspending operations completely until 28th March.

Additionally, the wider Lufthansa Group will be instituting cuts of up to 90% of their longhaul flights, and running only 20% of their shorthaul programme.

This new flying schedule will be released tomorrow (Tuesday) and will be valid until 12th April (or until it changes again).

American Airlines

American Airlines announced that it was cutting all longhaul flying, except for:

  • Daily Dallas to London
  • Daily Miami to London
  • Three times weekly Dallas to Tokyo Narita

Air France / KLM

Air France have announced that they are grounding their A380 fleet. This was always due by 2022, but they’ve now brought this forward. Whilst this is ostensibly temporary, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was made permanent. KLM have announced that with immediate effect, they’re permanently grounding their remaining 10 747-400 aircraft, again bringing their retirement forwards by two years.

Norwegian

Norwegian announced that it would be suspending all longhaul flying and ‘temporarily’ laying off 7,300 of their employees, which is roughly 90% of their entire company. This is an 85% cut in their schedules. Going forwards, they will only be flying domestic and intra-Scandinavian services.

Thoughts

We’re in unprecedented times. Entire airlines are shutting down completely. Countries are closing their borders. Put simply, I don’t know where this goes next?

Notably, the EU is in the process of suspending state aid rules. Virgin Atlantic has asked for support from the UK Government (which makes me question their short-term liquidity), whereas IAG has notably not. Some airlines will go bust, others will be bailed out by their governments. The interesting thing will be to watch which ones do get hand-outs and survive, and which ones do not.

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