Airlines rush to boost demand and manage coronavirus impact

Video Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on March 4, 2020 - Duration: 01:42s

Airlines rush to boost demand and manage coronavirus impact

The rapid spread of coronavirus cases worldwide is complicating past strategies used by airlines when disease, disaster or conflict hit travel destinations, when lower fares and redirecting flights has previously calmed traveler fears.

Adam Reed reports.


Airlines rush to boost demand and manage coronavirus impact

Major airlines are scrambling to win bookings from hesitant travelers as coronavirus fears mount.

Virgin Atlantic on Wednesday (March 4) joined those saying it will suspend fees for changing bookings.

Though many carriers are resisting the temptation to lower fares for the time being.

That as they wait for a clearer picture of where coronavirus outbreaks are localized, and which routes could benefit from price drops.

But with none of the offers so far guaranteeing money-back refunds, travelers may still need convincing.

Europe's biggest carriers have issued a string of warnings over the impact.

Wednesday saw Finnair cancel more flights and say it was considering layoffs, while budget carrier Wizz Air also said it might cut 10% of its capacity.

Speaking at an airline summit this week, Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O'Leary forecast a "very deflated booking environment" for the next two to three weeks: (SOUNDBITE) (English) CEO OF RYANAIR, MICHAEL O'LEARY, SAYING: "We at the moment don't see any impact on the our Easter bookings or on the summer peak period travel bookings, but there has been a huge decline in short-term bookings for the next couple of weeks and the week or two post-Easter." U.S. majors have since followed suit with various waivers on change fees.

The U.S. Travel Association forecasts that international travel to the United States will fall 6% over the next three months, the largest decline since the 2008 financial crisis.

In Asia, carriers like Vietnam Airlines have shown more willingness to cut fares.

But with coronavirus spreading worldwide, it's not clear where people will want to fly, at any price.

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