Irish budget airline Ryanair (FR/RYR) has said that it is cutting flights between the 17th March 8th April, mainly to and from Italy where there will be a 25% reduction.
The move is in direct response to a falloff in demand following the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
In addition to the drop-off in demand, Ryanair said that there has been a significant increase in ‘no-shows’ for flights to Italy.
Ryanair Group CEO, Michael O’Leary said: “Our focus at this time is on minimising any risk to our people and our passengers. While we are heavily booked over the next two weeks, there has been a notable drop in forward bookings towards the end of Mar, into early Apr. It makes sense to selectively prune our schedule to and from those airports where travel has been most affected by the Covid-19 outbreak.
“This is a time for calm. We will make sensible cuts to our schedules over the comings weeks to reflect weaker bookings, and changing travel patterns. All affected customers will be advised of any schedule changes at least 14 days in advance. While 80% of people who contract Covid-19 suffer only mild symptoms, the risk of infection can be significantly reduced by frequent hand washing with soap and water.
“We will continue to comply fully with guidelines from National Governments, the WHO and EASA as they are updated on a regular basis. We will update the market in due course on any significant developments“
The reduction in the flying schedule also means that the airline will introduce other measures including allocating paid and unpaid leave to crews and like rival Easyjet, introduce recruitment, promotion and pay freezes across its network.
Ryanair is not alone in reducing its flying programme, British Airways has also said it is cancelling 216 flights between the 16th and 28th March to destinations including New York, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Ireland.
The moves come as the outbreak continues to spread in the UK with 39 confirmed cases now. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned that a “very significant expansion” of Cases in the UK is highly likely.
Around Europe almost every country has a confirmed case but the highest currently are Italy which has 2036 confirmed cases while Germany has 157 and France has 191.
Across the globe there are 90,892 confirmed cases and 3,110 deaths as a result.
For the majority of people the Coronavirus gives mild symptons similair to the flu but is proving deadly to older people, particularly those underlying medical conditions with already weaken immune systems.