As Covid-19 continues to spread and countries respond with travel bans and advisories, global demand for flights has plummeted.
As a result, airlines have been forced to slash routes, with some operating near-empty aircraft.
Many airlines are now offering customers the option to amend or cancel flights free of charge.
Here’s a list of airlines that have slashed flight itineraries – in all cases, passengers should check if there are any additional flight restrictions in place.
Following the Foreign Office’s continued advice against all but essential travel to mainland China, BA has cancelled all flights to and from Beijing and Shanghai until 17 April 2020. It has also merged two daily services to and from Hong Kong until 31 March.
BA has also cancelled all flights to and from Italy in response to the lockdown.
The British flag carrier has also announced more than 400 additional flight cancellations between 16 and 28 March.
One daily round-trip from Heathrow to New York has been axed.
British Airways will also cut flights to Seoul by 50 per cent, with services operating every other day rather than daily.
“Customers on cancelled services will be offered the option of a full refund, rebook to a later date or rebook on other carriers where possible,” said British Airways.
The airline is offering free rebooking or flight vouchers for future travel for passengers affected by new travel bans. Following US Government restrictions on travel to the US from mainland European countries (Schengen countries), if you’re booked to travel between mainland Europe and the US up to 11 April 2020, you have the option to rebook to another British Airways flight for later travel for any date up until 1 August 2020 or receive a voucher for future travel.
If you are booked to travel to any Indian destination up to 14 April 2020, you have the option to rebook to another British Airways flight for later travel for any date up until 31 May 2020.
If you’re booked to travel between London and any Italian destination up to 4 April 2020, you have the option to refund your ticket, rebook on another airline or rebook onto another flight for later travel.
If you are flying to/from Hong Kong up until 31 May 2020, you can rebook on to another flight, at a later date. It needs to be to the same destination and operated by British Airways.
To increase bookings, BA is emulating the US airline JetBlue by offering fee-free changes. For new bookings made before 31 March 2020, it will allow customers to change flights without the usual penalties.
However, passengers cannot ask for a refund or credit note if they decide not to travel. And if the new flight is more expensive, they will have to pay the difference
Europe’s biggest budget airline has cancelled all flights to Italy until 8 April in response to the lockdown in Italy.
This will include domestic as well as international flights.
The airline said: “All affected passengers have received email notices today informing them of these flight cancellations.
“Passengers looking for repatriation can obtain a free move to an earlier Ryanair flight operating up until midnight Friday 13 March.
“Affected passengers will be able to choose between a full refund or a travel credit that can be redeemed on Ryanair flights in the next 12 months. “
The airline group’s chief executive, Michael O’Leary, previously said: “While we are heavily booked over the next two weeks, there has been a notable drop in forward bookings towards the end of March, into early April. It makes sense to selectively prune our schedule to and from those airports where travel has been most affected by the Covid-19 outbreak.
“This is a time for calm. All affected customers will be advised of any schedule changes at least 14 days in advance.”
EasyJet is cancelling all flights to and from Italy until 3 April. However, it will still be running a number of “rescue flights”.
The airline said: “Following restrictions implemented by the Italian authorities, easyJet is now in the process of cancelling all of its existing scheduled flights touching Italy between 10 March and 3 April 2020. We will be operating some rescue flights in the coming days. We are advising affected customers of their options by email and SMS which includes the option of rebooking or requesting a refund.
“We will be operating rescue flights for passengers wishing to travel for essential, work, health or repatriation reasons to and from Italy. Rescue flights will be listed on our Latest Travel Information section of the website and customers can book onto these flights via our contact centre or by arriving at the airport as early as possible on the day of departure.”
The airline said its schedule of flights to Czech Republic would continue as normal despite the country banning citizens from 15 nations, including the UK, from entering.
“Currently easyJet’s flying programme to and from Czech Republic remains unaffected however we would advise customers from the listed countries not to travel as they will not be permitted entry,” said a spokesperson. “We have advised all affected passengers of their alternative options by email and SMS. easyJet complies with guidance from relevant authorities.”
EasyJet has also waived the fee for changing existing and new flight bookings. The airline said in a statement: “We understand there is uncertainty around travel at this time, so if you currently have a booking with us but would prefer not to fly then from 13 March 2020 you can now change your flight online and we will waive the flight change fee.
“This applies to all existing and new bookings until further notice.”
Passengers will still have to pay the difference in fare if the new flight costs more.
Wizz Air has cancelled all flights to and from Italy and Israel.
Flights to Italy – from London Luton to Bari and Catania – are suspended from 10 March until 3 April.
Meanwhile, flights from London Luton to Tel Aviv will be suspended from 12 March until 23 March.
The airline said: “Passengers with bookings affected by this change will be automatically informed and accommodated on an alternative route at the earliest possible date.
“Customers who have booked directly on wizzair.com or the airline’s mobile app will receive an email notification, in which they are offered the free rebooking or full refund or 120 per cent refund of the original fare in airline credit.
“Passengers can choose between the above options by clicking on the link in the e-mail and easily choosing the best option via our self-service platform.”
Following the US ban on travel from most of Europe, Norwegian is grounding 40 per cent of its long-haul fleet and cancelling up to 25 per cent of its short-haul flights until the end of May. The changes apply to the company’s entire route network.
From 13-29 March the majority of flights from Amsterdam, Madrid, Oslo, Stockholm, Barcelona and Paris to the US will be cancelled.
From 29 March until the end of April, all flights from Amsterdam, Madrid, Oslo, Athens, Barcelona and Paris to the US will be cancelled.
From 13 March to the end of May, all flights between Rome and the US will be cancelled.
All routes between London Gatwick and the US will continue to operate as normal.
Norwegian will also cancel a large share of its domestic flights in Norway and flights within Scandinavia, such as Oslo-Copenhagen and Oslo-Stockholm. Flights to Italy will also be cancelled. Domestic and intra-Scandinavian flights will be combined.
Customers booked to travel on affected flights will be contacted to discuss their options including rebooking onto a flight at a later date. Those whose travels are after 15 April 2020 are asked to refrain from contacting the Customer Care team at this time.
Jacob Schram, CEO of Norwegian, said: “This is an unprecedented situation and our main priority continues to be the care and safety of our customers and colleagues. The new restrictions imposed further pressure on an already difficult situation. We urge international governments to act now to ensure that the aviation industry can protect jobs and continue to be a vital part of the global economic recovery.”
From 29 March to 24 April, Lufthansa Group has announced it is cancelling a total of 23,000 flights, with further cancellations expected in the coming weeks. These cancellations are spread across all passenger airlines in the Lufthansa Group (Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian Airlines, Eurowings and Brussels Airlines).
The capacity adjustments mainly affect Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
Lufthansa passengers who are planning a trip in the coming weeks are recommended to check the current status of the respective flight on lufthansa.com before departure. Guests who have left their contact details with Lufthansa will be proactively informed if their flight is cancelled.
After the Europe-US travel ban, Lufthansa Group has also cancelled the majority of flights from mainland Europe to the States.
Flights will continue operating from Frankfurt to Chicago and Newark (New York), from Zurich to Chicago and Newark (New York), from Vienna to Chicago, and from Brussels to Washington beyond 14 March.
All other US flights will be suspended until further notice, including all departures from Munich, Düsseldorf and Geneva. The Lufthansa Group will continue to serve all destinations in Canada until further notice.
Virgin Atlantic has suspended Heathrow-Shanghai operations until 19 April. It has also confirmed it has reduced its Heathrow-Hong Kong route in March.
Virgin has temporarily suspended flights from Heathrow to Tel Aviv after Israel issued a travel advisory barring UK citizens unless they can prove they will be placed in home quarantine for 14 days after arrival. Flights will resume on 1 and 2 April.
The airline said its flight schedule to India will operate as normal, despite travel restrictions.
For those who want flexibility, from 4 March until the end of March, passengers who book with the airline will be able to change their plans until the end of September 2020 – though they may still need to pay the difference in fare.
The Singaporean flag carrier has cancelled a large number of flights across its network up until the end of May. This includes services on its London Heathrow-Singapore route on 17 March, and throughout May. See the full list of cancellations here.
In addition, the airline is axing all flights to and from Milan Malpensa until the end of May.
The airlines is likely to axe further European routes after new government advice states that, from 15 March, all new visitors who have travelled to France, Germany, Italy and Spain within the last 14 days will not be allowed to enter or transit through Singapore.
KLM has suspended all flights to mainland China. Flights to Beijing and Shanghai are expected to resume on 29 March; flights to Chengdu, Hangzhou and Xiamen should commence on 3 May.
The Dutch carrier has also cut flights to Hong Kong by 50 per cent, offering a service every other day rather than its usual daily service, up until 3 May.
The airline is offering passengers the chance to rebook or get a refund if they have a flight to, from or via China (including Hong Kong and Taipei) on or before 31 May.
KLM has also suspended flights to and from the following destinations in Italy up to and including Friday 3 April 2020: Venice Airport Marco Polo; Milan Malpensa Airport; Milano Linate airport; Naples International Airport.
Other flights to Italy are not suspended, however, a rebook policy is in place for all destinations in Italy.
All Air France or KLM tickets purchased on or before 31 March 2020 for travel between 6 March and 31 May 2020, regardless of original ticket conditions and destination, can be rebooked for a later date at no extra cost until 31 May.
Passengers who wish to postpone tickets beyond 31 May 2020, change their destination or cancel their journey will be offered a non-refundable voucher valid for one year on all Air France and KLM flights.
This measure also applies to all tickets already issued for travel between 6 March and 31 May 2020.
Hong Kong’s national carrier currently has 120 planes sitting on the tarmac – about half of its fleet. More than 75 per cent of its weekly flights have been slashed in March, according to a study by the South China Morning Post.
Cathay has also said 75 per cent of staff (around 25,000 employees) have been asked to take unpaid leave.
The airline has suspended all flights to and from South Korea until 28 March, and cancelled flights between Hong Kong and Milan and Rome.
Aeroflot is temporarily suspending flights to Hong Kong.
Passengers who booked tickets on or before 5 March 2020 to travel on flights SU212/213 between 8 and 31 March 2020 can change their departure dates or obtain a refund for tickets at sales offices where they were purchased. Tickets purchased online can be returned at any of the airline’s sales offices or via the contact centre.
Changes and refunds will not incur additional fees.
Passengers with tickets for Aeroflot flights scheduled from 8 March onwards may contact Aeroflot’s special hotline with any questions on 007 495 7847242, as well as Aeroflot’s call centre (global free-call numbers available here) and the airline’s sales offices for refunds and rebookings.
United Airlines said that it will reduce the number of international flights in April by 20 per cent and US and Canada flights by 10 per cent.
The carrier has suspended all flights from the US to Beijing, Chengdu, Hong Kong and Shanghai until 30 April. Some services to Tokyo Narita, Osaka, Singapore and Seoul have also been suspended.
The airline said it will continue to fly its regular schedule from Europe to the US up to and including 20 March. After that, it expects to fly daily to Zurich, Brussels, Paris, Amsterdam, Manchester and Edinburgh, maintain multiple flights to Frankfurt and Munich, and operate 18 daily flights to and from London, three to Dublin and four flights a week to Lisbon.
Schedule changes will take place on 14 March. At that time, customers will be able to check the status of flights beyond 20 March on united.com or the mobile app.
Rebooking fees have also been waived on all flights: "If you're scheduled to travel March 10 – April 30, 2020 and would like to change your plans, there is no fee to do so, regardless of when you purchased your ticket or where you're traveling."
Due to the reduction in demand, American Airlines has suspended flights across its international and domestic network.
Routes affected include those going to China, South Korea, Japan, and Italy.
Following the Europe-US travel ban, AA announced it would continue operating flights from Dallas-Fort Worth, New York City, and Miami to Barcelona, Madrid and Paris for up to seven days to enable residents to get home.
It is suspending flights from Charlotte and Philadelphia to Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Madrid, Munich and Zurich from Friday 13 March.
Services are suspended from Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina to London Heathrow.
There is a reduced service from JFK, DFW and Chicago to London Heathrow.
Some South American routes are also being suspended.
The full list of affected flights can be found here.
Delta Air Lines
Delta has suspended all flights to China until 30 April, and selected flights to South Korea until 31 May. There are also reductions to services to South Korea and Japan.
A number of flights to Italy have been suspended. The New York JFK service to Milan is axed until 20 May while the service from Atlanta to Rome is suspended until 30 April.
From 14 March, the following routes will be suspended: Cincinnati-Paris; Indianapolis-Paris; Orlando-Amsterdam; Portland-Amsterdam; Raleigh/Durham-Paris; Salt Lake City-Amsterdam; Salt Lake City-Paris.
The full list of affected flights can be found here.
Qantas is having to adjust its schedule between now and mid-September.
A number of services to the US have been suspended until 18 April while others will have a reduction in capacity.
The only service to see an increase in capacity is the Perth to London route, as the airline is no longer re-routing through Singapore.
The full list of affected flights can be found here.