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WATCH: Flight traffic disappears from the skies as COVID19 hits travel demand

PortandTerminal.com, March 6, 2020

NEW YORKFlightradar24 has released a GIF that shows the steep drop in air traffic over China in weekly intervals starting in mid-January through to the beginning of March.

The impact of the virus on global air travel has been huge. Some airlines have cancelled up to a quarter of flights as passenger numbers drop. On Thursday, a global airline industry body warned the financial hit from coronavirus could reach $113bn this year.

The bleak prediction came on the same day that the UK-based discount airline Flybe went into receivership.

Airport with the tail sections of two planes visible. FlyBe logo on both tails.
Europe’s largest regional airline Flybe collapsed on Thursday this week

Airline experts are forecasting more failures as passengers cancel flights. “We believe further airline bankruptcies should be expected in the coming months,” said James Goodall, a transport analyst at Redburn in an interview with BBC.

In the EU, airlines are wasting thousands of gallons of fuel running empty “ghost” flights during the coronavirus outbreak because of European rules saying operators can lose their flight slots if they keep their planes on the ground. Carriers in Europe are in survival mode where conserving cash is now a matter of life and death.

Empty airport checkin lines
“The last time we’ve seen anything like this was just after 9/11” said one analyst

In the United States, things are no better. “The last time we’ve seen anything like this was just after 9/11” said one analyst. United Airlines and JetBlue Airways became the first airlines to cut their US flight schedules on Wednesday, as passenger worry about the coronavirus has caused a sharp drop in demand.

JetBlue said it is looking at measures to preserve cash, “including reducing hiring for both frontline and support center positions, considering voluntary time off programs as appropriate, and limiting non-essential spending.

United had already warned investors that the crisis had cut virtually all of its revenue on flights to China and Hong Kong during the current quarter, and about 75% onother trans-Pacific flights CNN reported.

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