Amid coronavirus outbreak, airlines and airport grapple with a cash crunch and plunging demand. The authorities reportedly said that they are taking steps such as suspending dividends, selling and leasing back aeroplanes and flying cargo on empty passenger jets. While major US airlines reportedly sought a government bailout of more than $50 million, several European airlines plunged again as they scrapped most flights for the coming weeks.
While speaking to an international media outlet, Qantas Airways Ltd Chief Executive Alan Joyce reportedly said that it is the ‘single biggest shock’ that global aviation has ever experienced. Joyce further added that the goal id to protect as many jobs as possible. According to reports, Qantas announced plans to cut international capacity by 90 per cent and domestic capacity by 60 per cent until at least the end of May. The airlines have also grounded the equivalent of 150 planes in response to new travel restrictions.
On the other hand, New Zealand’s Auckland International Airport Ltd said that it would scrap its interim dividend on top of cost-cutting measures that include a hiring freeze and a halt to discretionary spending. Air New Zealand Ltd reportedly also announced that it would cut capacity to Australia by 80 per cent from March 30 to June 30.
Other airlines, including Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd, is also one of the earliest and hardest hit by coronavirus outbreak. According to international media reports, the airlines will be cutting up to 90 per cent of its capacity in April, up from an earlier plan of 65 per cent. A statement from the airlines read that the advance passenger bookings show no clear signs of recovery at this stage and the gap between bookings compared to 2019 continues to widen.
A trade association reportedly warned that without action airlines could run out of money by year-end and even sooner if credit card companies started withholding money. The association further added that the without action soon airlines and other sectors could furlough tens of thousands of workers.
Leaders around the world are rolling out bans and travel restrictions in a bid to control the spread of coronavirus. Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the coronavirus as a global pandemic after the virus spread to more than 160 countries, resulting in the deaths of more than 7,000 people worldwide. WHO chief Tedros Adhanom further even urged all nations to get very serious over the issue and take all necessary measures to contain the virus from spreading at this rate. Tedros said, that the word 'Pandemic' cannot be used lightly or carelessly due to its strong connotation.