Major European airlines are set to axe thousands of jobs and, without bailouts, some are facing collapse as the coronavirus pandemic wreaks havoc on the industry.
After weeks of uncertainty in the sector, Saturday brought a raft of bad news for European carriers. The French government said it is not considering a bailout of Air France-KLM at this stage, as the airline struggles for survival amidst the public health crisis.
Scandanavian Airlines is reportedly laying off 100 pilots and 100 cabin crew on a temporary basis while Swiss International is taking half its fleet out of service and reducing working hours for flight personnel.
That wasn’t the end of the negative headlines, as UK airline Jet2 cut all flights to Spain, with the outbreak worsening in the Iberian country.
The tumultuous day was the latest in a desperate week in air transport. On Friday, the three largest airlines in the US, Delta, American and United, announced that they are all in talks with the US government about potential assistance due to the dramatic drop-off in air travel.
“The speed of the demand fall-off is unlike anything we’ve seen,” Delta CEO Ed Bastian said in a note to staff, which also alerted workers that the company would ground 300 aircraft, cut flights by 40 percent and reduce spending by $2 billion.
Friday also saw British Airways reportedly tell employees that it is to ground flights “like never before” and lay off workers both in the short term, and “perhaps long term.”
A dire memo to staff warned that the airline industry was facing a “crisis of global proportions” that was worse than that caused by the 9/11 attacks or the SARS epidemic. The usually robust Ryanair also told staff they may be forced to take leave from Monday.
The wave of uncertainty comes hot on the heels of Flybe, one of biggest airlines, collapsing into administration, leaving flights canceled and passengers stranded.
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