- A reduction in the demand for travel combined with government-imposed travel restrictions has forced some airlines to temporarily suspend operations.
- The US, Poland, Denmark, Latvia, and other countries have restricted access for non-citizens, hurting business for national and regional carriers alike.
- European airlines Air Baltic, LOT Polish Airlines, La Compagnie, and Scandinavian Airlines were among the first to suspend their operations.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Numerous airlines are temporarily suspending or drastically reducing their operations as the travel industry is experiencing record low demand as COVID-19 spreads around the world.
The fear of contracting the virus combined with government restrictions on travel has negatively impacted the travel industry in a way that hasn’t been seen since after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Airlines began cancelling flights to hotspots including China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran as the virus spread outwards from Wuhan. But the industry quickly saw a reduction in demand to all destinations as cases popped up in almost every continent.
As cancellations starting overtaking bookings, airlines took measures to inspire confidence in booking flights by waiving change and/or cancellation fees for future bookings.
The reduction in demand was worsened by travel restrictions set in place by US President Donald Trump that closed US borders to travellers who had visited the European Schengen Area, which was later expanded to include the UK and Ireland.
Here’s the full list of airlines suspending operations due to the spread of coronavirus and government-imposed travel restrictions.
French boutique airline La Compagnie announced on Thursday that it would be suspending operations until the president’s travel restrictions are lifted. The entirely business class airline operates two routes from the French cities of Paris and Nice to Newark, New Jersey.
Despite Newark Liberty International Airport operating as an approved entry airport for the US under Trump’s travel ban, passengers not approved to enter the country, including non-US citizens or permanent residents, would not be allowed to board flights originating in France.
The airline is one of the world’s smallest with a fleet of only two Airbus A321neo aircraft exclusively operating the airline’s transatlantic routes. XL Airways France, a sister airline operating low-cost, long-haul services from Paris, folded in 2019 with La Compagnie at risk to do the same as COVID-19 marches across France and continues to scare travellers from heading overseas.
La Compagnie expects to resume operations once the ban expires with one daily flight between Newark and Paris on April 15 while pushing back the launch of seasonal Newark-Nice service until June 1.
LOT Polish Airlines
LOT Polish Airlines is suspending its operations in Poland and Hungary following a directive from the Polish government to close its borders in an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19. The Polish flag carrier primarily operates flights from a base in Warsaw with a secondary base in Budapest, Hungary.
Polish news outlet Poland In is reporting 119 cases of the virus so far and three deaths as of Sunday. The country is not the first to restrict access to its territory in response to COVID-19 with nearby Latvia closing its borders as well.
As part of the Schengen Area, Poland was one of the countries affected by Trump’s travel ban and its national carrier was among the airlines losing passengers as a result. LOT Polish plans to resume flights after March 28 when the government’s ban is lifted.
Air Baltic announced that it will suspend all operations as the government of Latvia, where the carrier is based, has decided to largely close its borders to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in its country. The carrier will cease operations from March 17 until April 15, including in Estonia and Lithuania where it has secondary bases.
In the days leading up to the suspension, extra flights will be operated to accommodate passengers otherwise left stranded as more and more countries turn away foreigners.
SAS Scandinavian Airlines
SAS Scandinavian Airlines announced on Sunday that it would be suspending most of its operations due to a decrease in demand for travel with an unknown resumption date. The airline which represents Denmark, Sweden, and Norway cited a lack of demand from the global spread of the virus combined with the closure of numerous national borders.
Denmark, where SAS maintains a sizeable intercontinental base in the country’s capital of Copenhagen, has itself suspended entry from international visitors for a month. The Danish government’s restrictions cut to the core of SAS’ business especially as the airline inducted a new long-haul aircraft, the Airbus A350-900 XWB, to be based at Copenhagen’s Kastrup Airport.
The airline was also heavily affected by Trump’s travel restrictions as all three Scandinavian countries are members of the European Schengen Area.
Royal Jordanian Airlines announced on Sunday it would suspend all of its flights from Amman starting on March 17, becoming the first Middle Eastern airline to temporarily cease flying due to the spread of the virus. The suspension will remain in effect until the end of March.
The Jordanian flag carrier was forced to cancel the flights as the kingdom attempts to prevent an outbreak within its borders, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Austrian Airlines announced on Monday a temporary suspension of flights for a 10-day period starting March 18.
The airline is the first in the Lufthansa Group to entirely suspend operations, with its last flight operating from Chicago to Vienna on Wednesday night.
Finnair announced on Monday that it will be suspending a majority of its operation and will only be servicing “critical air connections for Finland.” The airline’s capacity starting April 1 will be reduced by 90% as mainly intra-Finland routes and select routes within Europe and to Tokyo are maintained.
The Finnish flag carrier was among the European carriers worst hit by the initial outbreak and spread of the novel coronavirus in Asia. The airline maintains a sizeable intercontinental network focused on connecting Europe and Asia via Helsinki that was largely crippled when demand for Asian travel began to wane.
Virgin Atlantic Airways
Virgin Atlantic on Monday announced a major reduction in services that will see the airline temporarily grounding 85% of its aircraft by April. The scale-back comes at a vulnerable time for the UK’s second-largest long-haul carrier as Virgin Atlantic is in the midst of a crucial expansion that has seen the aircraft take delivery of new aircraft and announce a slew of new routes aimed at making the airline more competitive with British Airways.
CEO Shai Weiss announced he will be taking a pay cut earlier in the month and asked employees on Monday to take two months of unpaid leave, the effects of which will be spread out in paychecks over the course of the next six months. The airline also announced the permanent termination of its London-Newark route, the airline’s former flagship where it took its first flight in the 1980s.
Norwegian Air announced on Monday it will be cancelling 85% of its flights as travel restrictions and the lack of demand have decimated its schedule. The low-cost carrier continues to be one of the hardest-hit airlines of the current crisis with recent government travel bans cutting to the core of the airline’s long-haul business and forcing the cancellation of thousands of flights both within Europe and to destinations overseas.
Industry analyst Henry Harteveldt named Norwegian as one of the more vulnerable airlines in Europe due to its weak balance sheet. The airline has been dealing with numerous costly hiccups since its debut in the transatlantic market, particularly stemming from issues with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and 737 Max aircraft.
Swiss International Air Lines
Swiss International Air Lines, along with other Lufthansa Group airlines, will see a steep reduction in short-haul and long-haul services by 80% and 90%, respectively, the airline’s parent company announced Monday.
The parent of the Swiss flag carrier, Lufthansa Group, has been heavily affected by the spread of coronavirus as it was one of the first airline groups to announce a heavy reduction in flying within Europe and later to the US following Trump’s travel restrictions for Europeans.
Brussels Airlines, one of the smallest national airlines in the Lufthansa Group, announced it will be suspending operations between March 21 and April 19. The suspension comes as the European Union has voted to close external borders and various countries within the political bloc have experienced outbreaks of COVID-19 that have decimated the demand for travel.
Low-cost carrier Eurowings is slated to be affected by the Lufthansa Group’s announcement on Monday to reduce long and short-haul flying across all member airlines.
Eurowings primarily operates a short-haul network within Europe but also has a small long-haul network focused on the Americas that has been largely decimated by President Trump’s travel ban for Europeans as the flights operate from Germany.
Air Dolomiti announced it will be largely ceasing operations for nearly a month’s time as Italy remains under lockdown due to the spread of the novel coronavirus and demand for travel to the country declines.
The Lufthansa Group’s Italian subsidiary, Air Dolomiti primarily connects the German cities of Frankfurt and Munich with cities across Italy.
Ryanair announced on Monday that the airline would be grounding the majority of its European fleet of Boeing 737 aircraft as coronavirus continues to cripple demand and countries across Europe are restricting access for foreign visitors. The Irish low-cost airline was heavily affected by the lockdown of Spain and Italy, two leisure destinations in Europe where the airline maintained multiple bases.
The infamous airline said that capacity in future months will be reduced by up to 80% and a full fleet grounding is possible if demand does not increase. The airline’s operations are entirely limited to Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East, regions vulnerable to the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Ukraine International Airlines
Ukraine International Airlines announced the cancellation of international flights until the end of March in response to the Ukraine government’s closure of its borders to foreigners in an attempt to limit the spread of COVID-19.
The airline’s final flights will depart back for Ukraine on March 17 with only Ukrainian citizens or residents allowed onboard.
CSA Czech Airlines
CSA Czech Airlines announced it will be cancelling all flights to its hub in Prague as the Czech government is closing its borders and preventing citizens from travelling abroad.
The government ban in an attempt to prevent an outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the Czech Republic is scheduled to remain in effect from March 16 until April 11.
The Air France-KLM Group, of which French flag carrier Air France is a leading member, announced the severe reduction of flights due to the spread of COVID-19 on the European continent and the resulting border closures around the world. The Paris-based group stated that is available capacity will be reduced to up to 90% as both airlines reduce the scale of their operation.
The airline’s Airbus A380, the largest aircraft in Air France’s stable, will also be grounded as demand dictates.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, another member of the Air France-KLM Group, will similarly be reducing the number of flights across its network.
The Amsterdam-based airline will be moving forward with the advanced retirement of its Boeing 747-400 aircraft that it was intending to retire in 2021.
Air New Zealand
Air New Zealand announced the scale back of its long-haul operation by 85% as the demand for international travel continues to decline amid the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The flag carrier’s long-haul operation accounts for a sizeable chunk of its business model as the country is largely isolated in the South Pacific Ocean.
The International Airlines Group, of which British Airways is the largest member, announced a reduction in capacity of up to 75% in April and May. The UK flag carrier was among the first to reduce service on a transatlantic route when it reduced frequencies on its flagship, billion-dollar London-New York route earlier in March.
As a member of the International Airlines Group, Spanish airline Iberia will also be largely scaling back its operations and affected by the group’s reduction in capacity by 75%. The airline has been hit hard with Spain under lockdown due to the spread of the novel coronavirus into the Iberian Peninsula.
Aer Lingus, the Irish member of the International Airlines Group, will be affected by its parent company’s decision to reduce capacity in light of the novel coronavirus crisis impacting Europe.
Though initially spared by Trump’s travel ban on European countries, the Irish flag carrier was hit hard when the ban was expanded to the UK and Ireland, both not members of the European Schengen Area.
Vueling, the International Airlines Group’s low-cost subsidiary, will be subject to its parent company’s announcement that it will be reducing capacity by 75% across all group airlines. The airline primarily operates routes from Spain and Italy, both of which are currently under lockdown to prevent a further outbreak of COVID-19.
LEVEL, the low-cost, long-haul arm of the International Airlines Group, will likely be affected by its parent company’s announcement to reduce flights across the group by 75%.
The recently opened low-cost airline operates bases in France and Spain, both currently experiencing surges in COVID-19 cases, with service to the US, which is largely barring foreign travellers who have visited such countries in the European Schengen Area.
Qantas announced on Monday that it will be severely reducing capacity on both international and domestic routes.
Grounding around 150 aircraft, the Australian flag carrier will reduce capacity on its international routes by 90% while its domestic capacity will be reduced by 60%, despite the country not seeing a true outbreak compared to European countries.
Australia has not yet closed its borders and its citizens are not yet prohibited from entering the US unless they have visited an affected country under Trump’s travel ban but the Australian government has requested its residents return home, the Guardian reported, as more countries close their borders.
Copa Airlines said in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission that the airline is planning to reduce capacity by 80% in April. The airline, based in Panama at the crossroads of the Americas, primarily connects passengers transiting between the two continents as well as Central America.
The filing also said it won’t be ruling out a temporary shutdown as demand continues to decline due to the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Virgin Australia announced on Tuesday it will be ceasing international flying as demand continues to decline and the Australian government recommends its residents return home. The airline has a limited international network compared to flag carrier Qantas with routes primarily within Oceania with select routes to North America and Asia.
Virgin’s domestic route network will continue to operate but experience reductions in capacity.
Cabo Verde Airlines
Cabo Verde Airlines announced it will be suspending all flights for at least 30 days as its archipelagic homeland attempts to shield itself from the novel coronavirus.
The newly-rebranded airline situated in Cape Verde off of the coast of Africa had recently implemented a strategy based on connecting the continents of North America, South America, Africa, and Europe via Cape Verde.
The government of Cape Verde is attempting to use the country’s isolation as an advantage by restricting flights and closing the country’s borders.
Philippine Airlines announced that all domestic flights are being cancelled until April 12 and the status of international flights between March 20 and April 12 is under review.
The cancellations are in response to a directive from the Philippine government, which has implemented strict measures regarding travel since the first outbreak in Wuhan, China in an attempt to prevent the spread of the virus.
Belgium’s Air Antwerp announced on Wednesday that it will be cancelling all of its flights from March 22 until April 12.
The temporary suspension of operations, the airline stated, was due to measures taken by the Belgian government to restrict travel, especially as the European Union voted to close its external borders.
Porter Airlines announced on Wednesday that it will be suspending operations until June as Canada and the United States agreed to close their border and the Canadian government is advising self-isolation.
The Canadian regional airline primarily operates flights in eastern Canada as well as transborder services from Toronto’s Billy Bishop Airport.
South Africa’s SA Express announced on Tuesday will be suspending all of its flights beginning Wednesday. The state-owned airline did not state when flights would resume.
Air Malta announced on Wednesday that it will be suspending operations beginning just before midnight on Friday until further notice.
The suspension comes as the Maltese government is suspending all commercial flight traffic to the island nation in an attempt to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Cayman Airways will be forced to suspend operations as the Cayman Islands government has announced the closure of Owen Roberts International Airport and Charles Kirkconnell International Airport for international passenger flights on March 22.
The closure will remain in effect until April 12 and affect the majority of Cayman’s operations.
Air Transat announced on Wednesday that all flights will be gradually cancelled until April 30. The move comes as the Canadian government and European Union, as well as Caribbean nations served by Air Transat, are closing national borders to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Cebu Pacific Air
Cebu Pacific Air announced on Tuesday all flights will be cancelled between March 19 and April 12.
The Philippine low-cost airline joins Philippine Airlines in cancelling flights in the country per government mandate.
Europe’s Laudamotion announced the suspension of all flight operations in conjunction with its parent company, Ryanair.
The Vienna-based airline was among the first in Europe to reduce its flights as the coronavirus spread across the continent.
French low-cost airline Transavia France, a member of the Air France-KLM Group, will be suspending operations indefinitely, reported La Tribune.
The bi-national airline group announced a large scale back in operations that saw a reduction of flights for both Air France and KLM, as well as regional airlines offering flights on the airlines’ behalf.
Air Moldova will be suspending operations until April 1, Routes Online reported, per government mandate.
The suspension primarily affects flights from the airline’s Chisinau hub to European and Middle Eastern destinations.
Jetstar Asia announced on Wednesday it will be suspending flights for three weeks from March 23 to April 15.
The Singapore-based airline was initially impacted by the initial outbreak of coronavirus as it suspended flights to mainland China and is now citing further travel restrictions imposed by national governments.
Moldova’s FlyOne will be suspending all operations until the end of March, the airline announced on Monday, per a government mandate to restrict air travel.
Flights are scheduled to resume on April 1.
Montenegro Airlines will be cancelling all flights until April 1,Reuters reported, as its home country attempts to prevent a coronavirus outbreak.
The country is one of many in Europe taking similar actions by restricting access to its borders.
AirAsia’s Philippines subsidiary will be cancelling all international and domestic flights from March 20 to April 14, the airline announced.
The move comes following a Philippine government directive halting air travel in the country to prevent a coronavirus spread.
Middle East Airlines
Lebanon’s Middle East Airlines will be suspending operations from March 19, the airline announced, as the Lebanese government attempts to prevent the larger outbreak of coronavirus in its borders.
The number of cases remains low in the country but neighbouring Jordan and Israel have already taken drastic measures to prevent outbreaks.
Yemen’s Yemenia announced the suspension of flights for a period of two weeks starting Wednesday.
The suspension came per a Yemeni government mandate restricting flights to the Middle Eastern country.
Royal Air Maroc
Royal Air Maroc on Tuesday announced the suspension of international flights indefinitely.
Domestic flights will remain intact with the government of Morocco seeking to limit international arrivals into the North African country.
United Airlines announced another sharp reduction in domestic and international flights in April. The Chicago-based airline will be cutting domestic flights by 60% while international flights will be decreased by 80%.
Cathay Pacific announced on Tuesday further reductions in capacity by up to 90%.
The Hong Kong-based airline was heavily hit by the initial outbreak of the novel coronavirus in mainland China which was compounded with the loss of traffic due to the protests in Hong Kong in the months prior.
Uzbekistan Airways announced on Monday that all international flights operated by the airline will be suspended from March 17 until April 5.
The move comes per the Uzbekistan government after the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the country.
Canada’s Sunwing Airlines has announced that it will be suspending flights between March 17 and April 9.
The suspension comes as Canada is largely closing its borders amid fears of a coronavirus outbreak.
Taiwan’s Starlux Airlines is suspending operations, One Mile at a Time reported, as the airline temporarily discontinues its sole route between Taipei and Da Nang, Vietnam.
The newly-established airline had suspended its other routes at the beginning of the outbreak and was down to only one route before the decision was made to suspend the service.
Air Madagascar announced the suspension of all flights as its island homeland attempts to prevent a coronavirus outbreak.
The African airline will be suspending flights for a month between March 20 and April 20.
Canada’s WestJet announced the airline is suspending all international operations as the Canadian government largely closes its borders.
Domestic traffic will also be reduced by half as the government tells Canadians to stay home.