Austrian Airlines will halt operations entirely from March 19, as the coronavirus pandemic pushes the global airline industry to crisis point.

The Lufthansa Group airline said the last flight would land in Vienna from Chicago at 0820 on March 19, with all flights suspended until March 28.

Passengers who have booked a flight during this period will be rebooked on other airlines where possible.

The Lufthansa Group also announced it would announce further reductions to its short- and long-haul schedule on March 17.

Seat capacity on long-haul services will be reduced by up to 90 per cent over the coming months.

On short haul, it says just 20 per cent the originally planned seating capacity will be offered from tomorrow.

The group said passengers should await further announcements on specific route cuts.

Lufthansa, Eurowings and Austrian Airlines have scheduled more than 20 special flights with over 6,000 passengers to get people home before the most drastic cuts begin.

Carsten Spohr, Lufthansa CEO, said: “Now it is no longer about economic issues, but about the responsibility that airlines bear as part of the critical infrastructure in their home countries.”

The group asked customers to use its website rebooking and self-service options if possible, with customer service agents facing huge demand.

This afternoon the European Commission said it had proposed a ban on all non-essential travel to the European Union.

Coronavirus: European Commission proposes ban on non-essential travel to EU

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