Northern European carriers Finnair and SAS have announced huge cuts in capacity, as airlines worldwide struggle to adjust schedules in the light of travel restrictions and plummeting demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Finnair says it will cut capacity by 90 per cent from April 1, with the reductions remaining in place “until the situation improves”.
In a statement the airline said that “Finnair will temporarily operate only approximately 20 routes, ensuring certain critical air and cargo supply connections for Finland during this exceptional situation”.
“Finnair will start transitioning to the limited network immediately and will cancel between 1,500 to 2,000 flights from March 16 to March 31”.
Flights to London will continue (although the frequency is unclear), along with services to Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, Frankfurt, Munich, Paris, Stockholm, Zurich and Tokyo, and the airline said it will also fly to Copenhagen, Moscow, Oslo, St Petersburg, Riga and Tallinn “once the travel restrictions to these destinations are lifted”.
Meanwhile SAS has announced it will temporarily halt “most of its traffic” from today (March 16), as well as making “temporary work reductions” affecting 10,000 employees, or 90 per cent of its workforce.
In a statement SAS said:
“As an effect of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, and the measures that authorities have taken, the demand for international air travel is essentially non-existent.
“Therefore, SAS has made the decision to temporarily halt most of its traffic starting Monday March 16 until there are yet again conditions to conduct commercial aviation.
“With consideration to our customers SAS will within the next few days, as far as it is possible maintain certain traffic in order to enable return flights from different destinations.
“We will be at the disposal of the authorities to on their behalf take home stranded citizens or maintain infrastructure important to society, as far as possible.”