Low-cost carrier Norwegian has announced it will ground 40 per cent of its long-haul fleet and cancel up to 25 per cent of its short-haul flights until the end of May.

It comes as countries escalate their responses to the coronavirus outbreak, with the US today banning entry to non-US citizens who have been in 26 European countries within the last 14 days.

From March 13 to March 29 Norwegian will cancel the majority of long-haul flights to the US from Amsterdam, Madrid, Oslo, Stockholm, Barcelona and Paris.

From March 13 to the end of May, all flights between Rome and the US will be cancelled.

From March 29 until the end of April, all flights from Paris, Barcelona, Madrid, Amsterdam, Athens and Oslo to the US will be cancelled.

All routes between London Gatwick and the US will operate as normal.

The airline said its “goal is to reroute as many of our customers as possible through London during this difficult period.”

CEO Jacob Schram said: “This is an unprecedented situation and our main priority continues to be the care and safety of our customers and colleagues.

“The new restrictions imposed further pressure on an already difficult situation. We urge international governments to act now to ensure that the aviation industry can protect jobs and continue to be a vital part of the global economic recovery.”

The airline will also cancel a large share of its domestic flights in Norway and flights within Scandinavia, such as Oslo-Copenhagen and Oslo-Stockholm. Flights to Italy will also be cancelled.

Norwegian said customers booked to travel on affected flights will be contacted to discuss their options including rebooking onto a flight at a later date.

Updates will be posted at norwegian.com/updates.

The airline further said it would make temporary layoffs of up to 50 percent of its employees across all departments, a figure that may increase.

The carrier, which made its name offering ultra-low cost transatlantic fares, has faced numerous difficulties in recent years.

These began when problems with the Rolls Royce engines on its Boeing 787 Dreamliner caused the aircraft to be grounded, and continued with the grounding of the B737 Max, of which it has 18.

It has expanded to and then withdrawn from markets including Singapore and Ireland.

Schram took over as CEO at the beginning the year, and was planning a return to profitability by halting expansion, cutting routes and jobs and selling off assets.

The coronavirus pandemic is hitting airlines around the world hard.

The Lufthansa Group is set to halve capacity this month, LATAM will cut capacity by 30 per cent and Finnair has suspended all flights to the US and Delhi.

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