Brussels Airlines, Belgium’s flag carrier, is one of many airlines struggling as a result of the coronavirus. While the airline doesn’t operate services to China (the epicentre of the outbreak), Brussels Airlines has a significant presence in Italy, Spain, France and generally, the Mediterranean. Like many others, the carrier has announced a number of cuts as it battles to contain losses.
It might seem like Brussels Airlines is in a good position, considering its limited long-haul network which does not include Asia. However, this is entirely not the case, as the airline announces significant cuts to its operation.
Brussels Airlines has just announced that its timetable would be drastically changed as the COVID-19 virus spreads to more and more countries. The airline says that 35% of its flights in March will be suspended. Meanwhile in April, the carrier says it will cut services by 45%.
As mentioned, Brussels Airlines has a considerable offering in Italy as well as to Israel. Italy, described as the ‘Wuhan of Europe’, has over 12,000 coronavirus cases and more than 800 deaths at the time of writing. Italy is by far the worst affected country in Europe. Brussels Airlines operates to 12 airports in Italy, including Bologna, Catania, Comiso, Florence, Milan (Malpensa), Milan (Linate), Naples, Olbia, Palermo, Rome, Turin and Venice. All of the carrier’s flights to Italy have been suspended till 3 April, the airline says.
Meanwhile, Israel is currently facing a major decline in air connectivity after it announced it would require all passengers arriving from any international destination to self quarantine for 14 days. At the time of the announcement from Israel, the country had almost 40 cases of the virus. Brussels Airlines has suspended services to Israel until 28 March.
Unfortunately, that’s not the only change that has been announced. In the last 24 hours, US President Donald Trump announced that travel restrictions would be placed onto all flights arriving from the 26 countries in the Schengen Area. Therefore, flights from Britain, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Turkey and Ukraine are not affected by the changes. The travel restrictions apply to anyone that isn’t a permanent American resident. Also exempted from the restrictions include spouses, parents or siblings of American citizens or permanent residents, members of the U.S. military and their spouses and children.
In response, Brussels Airlines announced that it would be suspending its services connecting Brussels with New York’s JFK Airport effective 14 March until further notice. However, Brussels Airlines says it will continue to serve Washington four times a week from its Brussels-hub. The carrier notes that New York is still served by its Lufthansa Group sister-airlines SWISS and Lufthansa.
Finally, Brussels Airlines has also announced that it would ‘partial temporary technical unemployment across the entire company as of 16 March,’ in a move to limit its costs as it battles to cut losses during these extraordinary circumstances.