American, Delta Airlines to Decrease Flights as Demand Drops Over Coronavirus Concerns

Two major U.S. airlines, American and Delta, announced on Tuesday that they are cutting back on international and domestic flights amid plunging demand for travel over coronavirus concerns.

American Airlines said it will be decreasing the number of international flights by as much as 10 percent during the summer compared to previous schedules, including a 55 percent reduction in trans-Pacific flights. While domestic flights in April will decrease by 7.5 percent, the airline said in a statement.

The company also announced it would suspend some flights to Asia, Europe, and South America.

Affected service includes flights departing from Los Angeles International Airport in California and Dallas-Forth Worth International Airport in Texas to mainland China, Hong Kong, Seoul, and Tokyo.

The airline said that change fees will be waived for the customers who bought tickets before March 1 for flights through April 30. Affected customers will be contacted by the airline’s reservation team through email or telephone.

Travelers wearring mask to protect against coronavirus
Travelers arrive to LAX Tom Bradley International Terminal wearing medical masks for protection against the novel coronavirus outbreak in Los Angeles, Calif., on Feb. 2, 2020. (David McNew/Getty Images)

Similarly, Delta Airlines also announced a decrease in flights due to a drop in demand amid coronavirus fears. International flights will be cut back by 20 to 25 percent, while domestic flights will be reduced by around 10 to 15 percent, compared to their current flight schedule.

Delta CEO Ed Bastian said the company is doing everything it can to protect its customers during this stressful time.

“As the virus has spread, we have seen a decline in demand across all entities, and we are taking decisive action to also protect Delta’s financial position. As a result, we have made the difficult, but necessary decision to immediately reduce capacity and are implementing cost reductions and cash flow initiatives across the organization,” he said.

Delta said in a statement that Pacific flights will be cut by 65 percent, trans-Atlantic flights will be reduced to 15 to 20 percent, domestic flights will be slashed by 10 to 15 percent, and Latin America flights will be reduced by 5 percent.

The airline is also instituting cost reduction initiatives, including “instituting a company-wide hiring freeze and offering voluntary leave options,” as well as “parking aircraft, and evaluating early retirement of older aircraft,” adding that ” the recent fuel price decline provides approximately $2 billion of full-year expense benefit.”

“The environment is fluid and trends are changing quickly, but we are well positioned to manage this challenge and are taking actions to ensure that Delta maintains its leadership and strong financial foundation,” said Bastian.