Coronavirus: Airlines struggle as deadly outbreak causes ‘bookings to collapse to zero’

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Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
@SimonCalder
3rd March 2020

independent.co.uk

No new bookings, just cancellations: that is one leading airline’s current sales pattern for Italy.

The slump in airline bookings due to the spread of Covid-19 has been laid bare in figures revealed by the International Air Transport Association (Iata).
One unnamed airline – understood to be one of Europe’s biggest carriers – is reporting a fall in flight bookings to Italy of 108 per cent.

Going into negative territory is explained by Iata as: “Bookings collapse to zero and refunds grow.”

The organisation said: “Many carriers [are] reporting 50 per cent ‘no-shows’ across several markets.”

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Airlines are generally able to pocket the revenue from customers who fail to take their flights, and in many cases also keep Air Passenger Duty; there is no obligation to pass it on to the Treasury if the traveller does not fly.

But Iata warns: “Future bookings are softening and carriers are reacting with measures such as crew being given unpaid leave, freezing of pay increases, and plans for aircraft to be grounded.”

It reports another airline whose sales worldwide are currently over one-quarter down on a year ago.

The airlines’ association is asking airports to relax the usual “use it or lose it” rules on take-off and landing slots.

These are assigned for the winter and summer seasons, with the latter running from late March to late October.

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