Just last week the chief executive of American Airlines, Doug Parker told an aviation conference that his airline wasn’t yet panicking about the COVID-19 global pandemic. But a lot has changed in the last week, the scale of the crisis is unprecedented and airlines are now fighting for survival.
Late on Saturday, the airline released a raft of new international route suspensions and capacity reductions that will result in a 75 per cent capacity cut. The new measures come into effect on Monday and last until at least May 6.
The biggest impact now affects flights to and from Europe, as well as the United Kingdom and Ireland, after the Trump administration extended a far-reaching travel ban and the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Europe the epicentre of COVID-19 outbreak.
As part of the latest route suspension, American says it will continue operating flights to London from Dallas Fort Worth and Miami but all other routes to the UK, including from New York will be axed.
Apart from three-weekly flights between DFW and Tokyo Narita, American will suspend all remaining flights to Asia, and flights between Los Angeles and Sydney will also be stopped.
For now, short-haul international flying to Canada, Mexico, Caribbean, Central America and a small number of destinations in the northern part of South America will continue as scheduled.
Both Delta Air Lines and United have approached the White House to request federal financial assistance in order to “weather the storm” being whipped up by the Coronavirus outbreak. American is likely to follow suit.
The British aviation trade organisation, Airlines UK has told the government that “prevarication” over granting financial assistance to airlines had to stop.
“We’re talking about the future of UK aviation,” an open letter from the trade body reads. “Unless the government pulls itself together who knows what will be left of it once we get out of this mess,” the letter continues.
Yesterday, sources claimed the bosses of Virgin Atlantic are to write to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson asking for at least £7.5 billion to keep the aviation industry afloat. In Germany, Lufthansa has already requested support and low-cost carrier Norwegian has indicated that the Norwegian government will need to step in to prevent the airline going bust.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.