United Airlines, which had already announced drastic cuts to its domestic and international schedule, today announced even deeper cuts.
The carrier was initially planning to cut services by 42 per cent, however that number is now up to 52 per cent as demand for flights continues to wane.
In total, across domestic and international flights, United will reduce capacity by 68 per cent in April.
When the airline announced the first round of cuts, it stressed that it wasn’t leaving without service any of the cities to which it previously flew and says it will still continue to fly to all of its US cities despite the cuts.
With dwindling air-travel demand in the wake of the coronavirus, the Chicago-based airline is making significant efforts to stay afloat. To this end, the company has taken several cost-controlling measures, such as freezing hiring (except for crucial roles), delaying salary increases as well as giving employees the option to apply for unpaid leave of absence, voluntarily.
The carrier is also trying to preserve cash by cutting down on capital expenditures and operating expenses. It has also suspended share buybacks. United is now also using empty passenger planes to fly cargo.
Shares of United Airlines have plunged 51.1 per cent since the beginning of February due to this turmoil.
Other developments overnight include:
- Israeli airline El Al has confirmed that it will be temporarily suspending all scheduled flights from tonight. The airline had previously announced it would be cutting some operations from 15 March. Tight entry restrictions in Israel have previously forced two other airlines to cease operating; both Arkia Israeli Airlines and Israir suspended operations earlier this month.
- South African Airways will be grounding all domestic flights from tomorrow as its home nation steps up its anti-coronavirus measures. The airline also announced today that its acting chief executive Zuks Ramasia, who has held the position since June 2019, will be leaving the airline next month.
- Alaska Airlines, although late to the party, has now announced a significant cut in the number of flights it will operate. The US airline will be cutting over 900 flights per day, accounting for around a 70 per cent drop in its scheduled services.
- Air New Zealand has reduced its international flight schedule to 11 routes amid the tightening of border controls around the world due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis